Why is China not good at football? (Analyzed!)

Last Updated on October 4, 2023 by Alex PT

China is not good at football due to a focus on other sports, limited grassroots development, lack of a strong football culture, and insufficient youth development infrastructure. Despite efforts, it lags behind football powerhouses.

Why is China not Good at Football?

china not good at football

China is regarded widely as the most populated country in the world and is renowned for its ever-growing population and economy. In general terms, they are actively involved in a series of sports games but their national football team, particularly the men’s team has been below par for several decades. It has become a subject of interest why a country of its size and magnitude is behind minnows like Montenegro and Cape Verde in FIFA rankings. Realistically, football was never in the Chinese people’s DNA as they are performing well in other sporting activities aside from football. In addition to that, China tends to thrive more in technical sports rather than the physical nature of the soccer game.

What are the reasons behind the lack of development in the Chinese men’s national team?

Lack of growth in Chinese football national teams occurs due to several reasons which will be highlighted and discussed below.


China as a nation is not culturally inclined to play the soccer game. Although football is quite popular among the youths in China, the game Is constantly in competition with other sports like ping pong, basketball, gymnastics, and athletics which are less physical than football. These sports are considered to be more traditional sports than soccer and it’s easier to play technically.


As a largely populated country, China is a hugely competitive place and most people want their children to have a regular job as a means of survival. This puts grassroots development at great risk as parents football as a career opportunity. In addition to this, the pay for local players is not encouraging which makes the dream of becoming a global superstar virtually nonexistent in the minds of an average young Chinese person.


Another major reason behind the limited growth in China football is the lack of infrastructural development. Well-built stadiums and modern training facilities are lacking to encourage the grassroots and ultimately a healthy soccer market.


Having enjoyed a successful period and increased popularity after the first Chinese professional league was set up in 1994, the league took a step backward in the year  2000. The setback was due to a lack of investment which was associated with illegal gambling syndicates. These corrupt practices had a negative effect on the progress the league has maintained through the years as investors pulled out of the team’s sponsorships. As a result, teams couldn’t sustainably afford to nurture special talents to secure the future of the Chinese national teams and also contribute to grassroots development.


Football superstars are role models and inspirations for young players in the game. Their presence is enough reason to motivate grassroots players and arouse their dedication to the game. However, China lacks such personality in its ranks, particularly in the men’s football team.



Football requires consistent investment from generation to generation and to develop talents for the future, individualism, creativity, and patience must be embraced. However, China is lacking in that regard it has had a telling impact on the men’s football performances on the national level.

A Brief History Of Soccer In China

Soccer has a long and rich history in China, dating back over 2,000 years. The earliest known form of soccer in China was called cuju, which was played during the Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). Cuju was played with a ball made of leather and stuffed with feathers or hair. The goal of the game was to kick the ball through a small hole in a net.

Cuju was popular among all levels of society, from the emperor to the common people. It was often played at festivals and other celebrations. Cuju also had a military significance, as it was used to train soldiers in hand-eye coordination and teamwork.

The popularity of cuju declined during the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD), but it revived during the Song dynasty (960-1279 AD). During the Song dynasty, cuju became a professional sport, and there were even leagues and tournaments.

However, the popularity of cuju declined again during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644 AD) and the Qing dynasty (1644-1911 AD). This was due to a number of factors, including the government’s ban on sports and the growing popularity of other sports such as archery and martial arts.

Soccer was reintroduced to China in the late 19th century by British sailors and missionaries. The first soccer club in China was founded in 1895. Soccer quickly became popular among young people in China, and the Chinese national team was formed in 1924.

However, the Chinese national team has struggled to achieve success on the international stage. China has never qualified for the FIFA World Cup, and the team’s highest FIFA ranking was 37th in 1997.

Despite the lack of success on the international stage, soccer remains a popular sport in China. There are millions of soccer fans in China, and the Chinese Super League is one of the most popular soccer leagues in Asia.

The Chinese government has invested heavily in soccer in recent years, in an effort to make China a more competitive footballing nation. The government has built new stadiums, hired foreign coaches, and sent young players to train overseas.

What other sports are the Chinese good at?

China excels in various sports beyond football, with a strong emphasis on Olympic events. Some sports where China has achieved notable success include:

  1. Table Tennis: China dominates the world in table tennis, with numerous Olympic and World Championship titles.
  2. Badminton: Chinese players consistently rank among the world’s best in badminton, winning Olympic gold medals and World Championships.
  3. Gymnastics: China is renowned for its gymnastics prowess, particularly in artistic and rhythmic gymnastics.
  4. Diving: Chinese divers have won numerous Olympic and World Championship medals, showcasing remarkable skills in platform and springboard events.
  5. Weightlifting: China has a strong presence in weightlifting, with numerous Olympic gold medals and world records.
  6. Shooting: Chinese shooters excel in various shooting disciplines, winning medals at the Olympics and World Championships.
  7. Table Tennis: The Chinese national team has been dominant in international competitions, with many world-class players.
  8. Basketball: China has a growing interest in basketball, and the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) has produced notable talents like Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian.
  9. Wrestling: Chinese wrestlers have earned medals at the Olympics and World Championships, especially in Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling.
  10. Volleyball: China’s women’s volleyball team has achieved Olympic and World Championship success.
  11. Athletics: Although not as dominant as in some other sports, China has produced world-class athletes in events like racewalking and women’s middle-distance running.
  12. Swimming: China’s swimmers have made strides on the international stage, particularly in distance events.
  13. Winter Sports: With the 2022 Winter Olympics hosted in Beijing, China is investing in winter sports like ice skating, skiing, and curling.


We have a compiled list of frequently asked questions on why China is not good at soccer games. Let’s check them out!

Why does china not participating in the world cup?

World Cup qualification is achieved after successfully passing through the qualifying stages. China was not banned from the World Cup but failed in its qualifying attempts after making its maiden appearance in 2002 cohosted by Korea and Japan.

Is football popular in China?

Yes! Football is a popular game across the globe and China is no different. The FIFA World Cup is up on the list of the top 5 sporting events in China.

What sport is china well known for?

Ranging from gymnastics to athletics, China is also renowned for its utter dominance in Badminton and table tennis.

How successful is the Chinese female national team in football? 

In terms of competitiveness, the female national team in Chinese football has been relatively more successful than their male counterparts. They have been consistent in performance for several decades, and have been on the same par with international giants like the USA, Germany, and Japanese female national teams.


The culture and bureaucratic system of government are major factors affecting the growth of Chinese football teams. However, the female team has relatively been better than their male counterparts nonetheless. Furthermore, China performs better in other technique-based sports than the explosive later of football, which they are not built for physically.

We have come to the very end of this informative article with the hope that enough resources have been provided in this write-up to answer all your queries about the article topic. Kindly reach out to us via that comment section if you have more questions.




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