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On the occasion of the Chinese New Year, we interviewed Nicholas Gineprini, one of the founders of Calcio8Cina and Chinese correspondent for several sites, including Ultimo Uomo. We wanted to thank him for the space given on his website to all the teams of the 2019 Asian Cup.
K: What are the origins of your passion for China? Did it start together with that for Chinese football?
N: The passion for China was born on a cinematic level, I have always been interested in films from that geographical area. 5 years ago I decided to take this passion to the next level, football has been my means to fully penetrate this country. I have always thought that this sport is a magnificent way to fully get in touch with the culture of peoples.
K: Where was the Calcio8Cina project born?
It was born from two different projects that joined together: my “China football blog” and “Chinese football”. Having seen that there was a page bearing similar topics I thought it was good to join; we then chose to insert the number 8 in the name given its symbolic value in Chinese culture.
K: The 2019 Asian Cup was definitely one of the hottest ever, tell us about your experience
N: From the point of view of the game we have not actually seen anything incredible, many teams, including China, are still struggling to stay on the pitch. On the other hand, it is absolutely the opposite for teams like Iran, one of the most popular for the final victory, and Qatar. The winner of the tournament involved me particularly thanks to her talented young people like Al Moez and the history behind them. The success of this national team is the result of a strict and winning programming in Doha which has managed to fully respect its objectives in view of the World Cup and America’s Cup.
Another very interesting factor was the explosion of many individuals in the various national teams, such as Mohammad from Iraq. There are many young people who could really have a future in European football, at least for what they have shown in this competition.
K: How do you see the future of football in China and why?
N: In China we continue to spend on champions and we are also starting to naturalize young people, but in my opinion they are short-term investments. The chronic problem is in the youth sector and in the culture of football which practically does not exist in this country. The first depends on a lack of programming and patience. The Chinese manager prefers to make an immediate impression by signing an agreement with a rich European team, perhaps for 3 months, rather than doing a long project like the Qatari one.
As far as football culture is concerned, the “problem” has its origins in the Chinese language and its learning system. Children are accustomed from an early age to a purely mnemonic learning, this means that they are more inclined to disciplines and subjects in which technique is preferred over creativity. They are incredible for example in sports such as diving, weights, swimming etc .. but in a sport like football, where you often have to “improvise”, they struggle. In addition, football is a de facto school subject and this leads children to consider it an obligation among many. To be clear, you will hardly find Chinese people playing after school in a field, most likely they will be studying or playing videogames. It is no coincidence that the area in China where players with the greatest potential are often born is Xinjiang, a place inhabited by the Uyghur minority.
K: Today we celebrate the Chinese New Year with the arrival of the year of the pig, is there any player who, in your opinion, fully represents an animal of this ancient tradition?
N: Actually, I can’t think of anyone where the comparison is evident, I had to say one but I would say Wu Lei, striker just landed in Barcelona, Espanyol side, of the symbol of the goat, an animal quite particular for the Chinese horoscope. They are in fact considered people with great talent, but who need the right guidance to channel it; from this point of view Wu Lei perfectly represents this beast. In the league he managed to establish himself as a top scorer and bomber in the league, thanks to the invaluable support of Hulk and Oscar, in the national team, however, he loses and fails to give 100%.
We infinitely thank Nicholas Gineprini for the interview, Calcio8Cina is one of the most interesting realities ever to understand this culture, we increasingly need pages like this. Regarding this, we also wanted to thank the other members of Calcio8Cina: Eduardo Accorroni, Santiago Shen and Andrea Bisceglia (author of “History of Chinese football“). We take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy year of the pig, and a joyful New Year. Follow them also on Facebook and Instagram
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