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>> After a summer of huge hype, China's football fantasy is falling through the floor. Fans waking up on Wednesday to a national team without a manager after Gao Hongbo stepped down following a two-nil defeat to Uzbekistan just days after losing to war-torn Syria. China's odds of qualifying for the next World Ccup are now in tatters, a gut punch to president Xi Jinping who wants his country to one day host and win the tournament.
China has thrown billions of dollars into football, investing in everything from major European clubs and players to youth development and broadcasting. Reuters' Adam Jordan says that may all add up to setting the bar too high.>> All that has trickled back down in some ways in terms of perception to the national team.
Fans, global experts, people watching the game are sort of expecting that China's own team will pull up its socks and start becoming world beaters. The main hurdle for the national team here is really that soccer is not a mainstay of growing up for young kids here. So despite a massive investment in these soccer academies, these soccer schools, we're not likely to see any real fruition from that for decades, perhaps.
>> Many Chinese fans had all but given up on their team on Wednesday, one post on social media saying, now that the coach is gone, why don't we just disband the whole team and stop wasting taxpayers' money? Even state media called Chinese football a fake bubble fueled by crazy capitol and imported talent.
Things aren't going well abroad, either. Clubs like Inter Milan and Aston Villa are struggling despite big promises from their new Chinese owners, while others have been hit by questions over financing. On top of all that, China's richest man who owns Spain's Atletico Madrid poured cold water on football investments in August, saying it's too tough to actually make any money.