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To date, China has qualified for this global soccer tournament just once, in 2002, and it has never scored a goal in the World Cup.

到目前为止,中国只在2002年获得了一次参加世界杯这个全球足球赛的资格,而且在世界杯上从未进过球。

Can China go from soccer dud to soccer superpower? My guess is probably not – at least not in Xi’s lifetime.

中国能从足球弱国变成足球超级大国吗?我猜大概不能。

Not a winner

不是赢家

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Xi can also ensure that his countrymen see and play more soccer. China’s 2016 plan for Chinese soccer greatness proposes to build 70,000 new stadiums and develop 20,000 new specialized schools, with the aim of having 30 to 50 million Chinese children playing soccer by 2020.

2016年的“中国足球伟大计划”提出,到2020年,中国将建成70000个新体育场,发展20000所新的专门学校,目标是让3000万至5000万中国儿童踢足球。



China’s ferocious academic culture

中国残酷的学术文化

So Chinese soccer may well improve dramatically over the next two decades. But I believe China lacks the culture and institutions to achieve Xi’s third goal: winning the World Cup.

因此,中国足球在未来二十年可能会有很大的改善。但我相信中国缺乏文化和制度来实现赢得世界杯的目标。

For one, history shows that investment from China’s soccer plan will inevitably be directed mostly to coastal megacities and capitals because of the country’s administrative hierarchy. That hierarchy systematically benefits provincial capitals and large municipalities. My experience is that the trickle-down to rural areas, where about half of the population still lives, is slow and minimal.

一方面,历史表明,由于中国的行政等级制度,中国足球计划的投资将不可避免地主要流向沿海大城市和省会城市。这种等级制度系统地使省会和大城市受益。我的经验是,流入农村地区的速度很慢,而且很少,那里仍有大约一半的人口居住。

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I see no evidence that China is currently training the next generation of global soccer stars.

我没有看到任何证据表明中国正在培养下一代的全球足球明星。

Not enough space

空间不够

Even China’s economic boom does not work entirely in soccer’s favor.
The bulk of China’s 1.38 billion people live in central and eastern China, where cities are among the most densely populated in the world. Urban real estate prices there are sky high, so recreational space in cities – like soccer fields that can be used for pickup games and local leagues – are few and far between.

即使中国经济的繁荣也不能说是完全有利于足球。
中国13.8亿人口中大部分生活在中国中部和东部,那里的城市有着世界上最高的人口密度。城市地产价格高得惊人,所以城市里的娱乐空间——比如足球场,可以用来临时比赛和用于当地联赛——非常少而且也很远。

Japan has 200 sports fields for every 10,000 people. China has seven, and most of them are owned by schools or the military. Your average American has access to 19 times more sports space than the average China resident.

日本每10000人有200个运动场。中国只有七个,而且其中大多数是学校或军队所有。美国人平均比中国居民多19倍的运动空间。

China is massive – bigger than Germany, Brazil and South Africa combined. But that doesn’t mean there is a lot of free space. Land in rural China is still dominated by small-scale agriculture.

中国幅员辽阔,比德国、巴西和南非的总和还要大。但这并不意味着有很多自由空间。中国农村的土地仍然以小规模农业为主。

Basketball courts are far more common in China, which may explain why more Chinese people play basketball. Some 33 million Chinese follow the NBA’s account on Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter.

篮球场在中国非常普遍,这也许可以解释为什么更多的中国人打篮球。大约有3300万中国人在微博上关注NBA的账号。

Culture gap

文化差距

The central government’s 2016 soccer plan addresses China’s deficit in youth talent development and infrastructure by proposing more childhood soccer training and building more soccer stadiums.

中央政府2016年的足球计划为了解决中国足球青年人才发展和基础设施的缺陷,提出更多的儿童足球训练和建设更多的足球场。

The culture gap may prove harder to overcome, though. China just isn’t a soccer country. I rarely saw kids playing informal games in the streets of China with a soda can or a half-deflated ball as one does across Latin America and Africa.

然而,文化差异可能更难克服。中国不是一个足球国家。我很少看到孩子们像拉美和非洲人一样在中国的街道上拿着汽水罐或半充气的球玩非正式的足球游戏。

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That’s because many traditional soccer powers have marginalized women’s participation in the sport. If Xi wants China to make its mark as a soccer upstart, the women’s team may be his best investment.

这是因为许多传统的足球强国已经将妇女参与该项体育运动边缘化了。如果中国想成为一名足球新贵,那么女队也许是最好的投资。

Author
Mary Gallagher
Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan

作者
Mary Gallagher
密歇根大学政治学教授