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China was the last major East Asian country to start a professional football league. Football (Chinese: 足球; pinyin: zuqiu) has been one of the most well supported sports in China ever since it was introduced in the early 1900s. The national governing body is the Chinese Football Association (CFA).
The professional league is marred by match-fixing, illegal betting, and violence on and off the pitch, which the Chinese government has said would take a long time to fix.
On December 21, 2009, China was awarded FIFA’s Development Award after successfully implementing a new nationwide grassroots football program.
The Men’s National Team is ranked 87th in the world, and Women’s National Team is ranked 13th.
China’s top football league is beginning a new season without a main sponsor or a national TV deal.
Main sponsor tire maker Pirelli has torn up its contract with the Chinese Super League, and football officials have failed to find a new one.
National broadcaster China Central Television is refusing to show the matches, and there are reports of poor ticket sales at some clubs.
The league has been hit by a series of scandals in recent years.
The problems do not stem from a lack of interest in football in China – there are tens of millions of potential fans.
The problem is the league itself, or more precisely, the people who run it.
Several senior officials from the Chinese Football Association have been arrested over match-fixing allegations.
Top referees were sacked for taking bribes and even players have been tainted by claims of corruption.
The national team has not helped either – years of poor results have seen China drop to 76 in the Fifa world rankings.
That has turned off fans, many of whom now prefer to watch top European football instead.