In China, sea lions to replace “Paul the octopus”


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Among the absentees of the 2022 World Cup, the Chinese team did not pass the qualifying round, to the great disappointment of football fans, many of whom follow the matches in Qatar and the predictions of sea lions from a West Country Wildlife Park.

From our correspondent in Beijing, Stephane Lagarde

China is not in Qatar, but it also has its pet animals when it comes to football and forecasting. After “Paul the octopus”, the elephants Citta and Nelly, the kangaroo Predictaroo, “Madame Shiva the guinea pig”, or even “Yvonne the cow” and “Shaheen the dromedary”, here are the Chengdu sea lions. We do not know for the Blues, but for the other meetings, the sea lions had everything good.

Also to watch: [Vidéo] Predictions: do animals have a gift of divination?

On the images broadcast on Douyin (Chinese version of Tik Tok), the marine mammals of the « polar park » of the capital of Sichuan in the great west of China catch fish in buckets in which the flags of the teams are planted. And they would have already been able to successfully predict the outcome of three games played by Ecuador, England and Saudi Arabia.

Forecasts and diversion

This is also perhaps a way for the state media to try to make people forget that it was not possible to find 11 players capable of qualifying in a continental country where the Chinese president posted a few years ago big football ambitions. However, for the moment, the means used to collect medals at the Olympic Games or in other sports, have no equivalent in terms of football, say the specialists.

There is certainly popular fervor, confided Frenchman Bruno Genesio came to train the Beijing team before the pandemic. But in terms of training players, there is still work to be done. Officially due to Covid-19, China has given up hosting the Asian Cup next Junewhen the stadiums were ready.

Read also : Football: China gives up hosting the Asian Cup next year

In 2016, Argentinian striker Carlos Tevez has signed a two-year contract for 40 million dollars with the club Shanghai Shenhua, reports the Associated Press. The latter only scored four goals before returning to Boca Junior. This did not prevent him from qualifying his stay in Shanghai, in the Argentine press, as «  vacation in China. »

Stadium and mascots “made in China”

The confinements, the real estate crisis which affected clubs like Evergrande de Canton, or the absence of international meetings do not promote motivation. Result: the big ones can bow to the little ones. The meeting between the Wenhui club and the Beijing Guoan team on November 17 reminded us of David versus Goliath. Jingchuan county where the Wenhui team is located in the northwest Gansu province was founded in 2021 with a registered capital of less than 5,000 euros. And the fact that the goalkeeper is a physical education teacher did not prevent him from beating the prestigious club from the Chinese capital.  » Without adequate training, it is useless to eat sea cucumbers every day – a dish known to be delicate and expensive – said one commentator.

That’s not to mention corruption and match fixing. The cleaning has been done in this area in recent years, but the reputation of Chinese football still leaves something to be desired. For many, the reference remains the North American world. Chinese middle-class parents continue to send their children to basketball or hockey, rather than football.

In terms of industrial production and retail trade, on the other hand, China remains the champion in all categories, the official media have recalled in recent days. The Lusail stadium which will host the World Cup final in Qatar was built by a large Chinese public construction group, the China Railway Construction Corporation. Yiwu manufacturers are not left out either. The factories of the ex-workshop of the world in the south-east of the country supply 70% of the giveaways of this 2022 World Cup, mascots included of course.

Read also: Mondial-2022: overview of the eight stadiums hosting the competition

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