Foreign coaches come to China just for the money, says ex-star

Sports | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 14 Jan 2021

Former Manchester City star Sun Jihai has accused foreign coaches of going to China just for the money, saying they do little to help the country pursue its football World Cup dreams.

It comes a week after Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan appointed Slaven Bilic, with the Croatian admitting that "the finances" played a part in the move.

The former West Bromwich Albion manager becomes the latest overseas coach in the league, joining Guangzhou Evergrande's Fabio Cannavaro and Dalian Pro's Rafael Benitez.

Sun, a defender who played for City in 2002-2008, said in a television interview: "Foreign coaches come to China for a very simple purpose: a pay check.

"Otherwise what are they coming for? Do they want to improve the level of Chinese football? Then what have they done?"

Despite his scathing assessment Sun, 43, admitted: "If I were a coach I would do the same. People are stupid and have a lot of money, why not?"

CSL clubs gained a reputation in recent years for extravagant spending, especially on attacking players such as 60-million-euro (HK$567 million) Brazilian forward Oscar at Shanghai SIPG.

The boom is now over after authorities put a cap on salaries, but Sun said: "At many of our league teams foreign players only need to attack and not defend.

"But this is not football, this is not the direction that football development should go.

"It probably can get you the win, but it will make Chinese football worse and worse," added Sun, now vice-chairman of the FA in Xinjiang region.

Asked what he would do if he was in charge of a CSL team, Sun said his focus would be on scouting and youth development. "Youth training is a fundamental task crucial for generations to come," he said.

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