On the evening of May 30th, at the Suzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium, when the Chinese team led Guam by 2:0 and entered the intermission, the Chinese Football Association team received a disturbing news: a confirmed case of the new crown in the Maldives team, the whole team Unable to compete in the Suzhou Division. This sudden change disrupted all the arrangements of the Chinese side. Subsequently, the Syrian team was determined not to come to China, and the game was forced to move to Sharjah, UAE. The Chinese team’s preparations were “subversively” disturbed, and some players’ mood fluctuated. After the team arrived at the Sharjah hotel, a confirmed case of the new crown was found in the hotel…
Thrilling! Chen Xuyuan, chairman of the Chinese Football Association, used these four words to describe the arduous struggle of the Chinese team and the Chinese Football Association team from Suzhou to Sharjah. Today, the Chinese team has reached the final 12 finals in the Asian region of the World Cup qualifiers. Chen Xuyuan Zhenghe team was quarantined in Suzhou. In an interview with a reporter from Xinhua News Agency over the phone, he recounted all that he had experienced before, and his words were full of emotion, gratification and confidence.
The reporter asked (hereinafter referred to as the “question”): On May 31st, we outside received news that the Suzhou Division of the Top 40 will be transferred to the UAE. The incident happened suddenly, and it is conceivable that the situation at that time was intricate and chaotic. How did the Chinese Football Association deal with it at that time?
Chen Xuyuan’s Answer (hereinafter referred to as “Answer”): The situation was particularly chaotic at the time. During the midfield of the match between China and Guam on May 30, we learned that two of the Maldives team were infected with the new crown, and the whole team became close contacts. According to the relevant regulations of FIFA, close contacts can come in to participate in the competition as long as they do not test positive for nucleic acid. However, according to our country’s epidemic prevention requirements, close contacts must be quarantined. If the Maldives team accepts isolation and cannot come to China, the game will become a big problem.
After receiving the news, the Chinese Football Association urgently communicated with the AFC and the Maldives, explaining to them our country’s epidemic prevention requirements, and I hope they will understand. At that time, we hoped that the Syrian and Philippine teams could come to China as usual and make special treatment for the match between China and the Maldives. But on the 31st, someone in the Syrian team was tested and found that the serum index was too high. According to our country’s epidemic prevention requirements, they were not allowed to enter the country. The problem has become serious, and we are faced with the question of how to continue the competition.
On the evening of the 31st, Du Zhaocai, deputy director of the State Sports General Administration, held an emergency meeting with the core members of our team. Various options and possibilities were discussed at the meeting. We also communicated urgently with relevant departments, but felt that it was very difficult. In the end, the AFC said that if you can’t hold a game in Suzhou, then move to the UAE.
We have also communicated with FIFA and AFC to see if we can postpone the game, but their attitude is very clear: the last game must be played on June 15th, and there is no possibility of postponement. There is only one way ahead of us, which is to hold the game in another place. In this regard, FIFA, AFC and UAE Football Association have given us a lot of support.
The State Sports General Administration attaches great importance to this matter. Based on the pros and cons of various situations, the General Administration decided to switch games on the morning of June 1. This is indeed a more painful decision, but it is a decision that has to be made, because there is no better way than this. In fact, there was only one operational solution at the time.
After deciding on the transition, we immediately did three aspects of work. The first is the preparation of the team. The national football team originally prepared for the game in Suzhou according to the plan, but the result was suddenly changed, and the entire preparation plan was forced to undergo major adjustments. Among them, the players and coaching teams are most affected. First of all, we discussed with the coaching team to clarify the situation. Everyone reached a consensus and could only go this way. Either we give up the game or switch to the UAE to play. It is obviously impossible to give up the game, we have to face the difficulties. After we communicated with the coaching team, the coaching team held a meeting of all players at noon, told all the players about this decision, and immediately made the preparation plan for the next transition.
The second is event organization. Although the game has moved to Sharjah, the entire organization of the game is still dominated by the Chinese Football Association. Therefore, the board and lodging, transportation, epidemic prevention, and competition organization of all five teams, including the Chinese team, as well as referee officials, are all arranged by us. Because the rights and interests of the game are in the hands of the Chinese Football Association, we have set up six work teams for this purpose. We have done some integration on the basis of the original work teams in the Suzhou Division to ensure that we can organize the competition, arrange the epidemic prevention, team reception, and logistical support. , Signal production, rebroadcasting and other tasks.
The third thing is to deal with the aftermath, because our tickets have been sold, we need to deal with a series of issues such as refunds. We have established a team with Suzhou. Suzhou has devoted a lot of effort and done a lot of work to this competition. After encountering the change of the game, Suzhou also cooperated with us to do a lot of work.
There is one more important question. The team is about to go to the UAE and depart from Shanghai to Dubai. There are no domestic routes. What about the plane? How to implement charter flights? It is too challenging for us to complete all these tasks in less than two days! Fortunately, all departments are more supportive, and the Department of External Relations of the State Sports General Administration helps us coordinate with all our efforts. The Civil Aviation Administration is also very helpful and quickly solved this problem, including applications for landing in the UAE and applications for flying over the country’s airspace. These are all completed in just two days, which is very difficult and not easy.
At that time, the working team of our Football Association was almost at work for two days and two nights. I am not the only one, but the main members of all our teams, dealing with these things every day.
There is also the situation of epidemic prevention in the UAE, we must understand clearly. For this, we contacted the company of COSCO Group in Dubai and asked them to give us feedback on the situation in Sharjah. After we get the specific information, we will make specific plans in China. When we set out, we had a basic judgment on the local situation, including hotel reservations, stadiums, training grounds, etc. The hotel we contacted is not a hotel, it must be a hotel of five teams and AFC officials.
There were so many things to do in those two days, and I now think it was truly thrilling.
From May 31st to June 3rd, the time left for us is less than 72 hours. Despite the hardship, we completed it on schedule. I am very proud of the Football Association team, we have really stood the test.
Q: The team departed from Suzhou to the UAE and then returned to Suzhou. It took 351 hours before and after, which was thrilling. When the game ended successfully and you returned to China, what was your mood?
A: After the team returned home safely on the morning of the 17th, I felt very pleased and very worthwhile. Although we paid so much, we successfully achieved the two pre-set goals: the first is safety and epidemic prevention, and the second is to qualify for the top 40 of the national team. These are the best games the national team has played in these years, and we have completed our mission to advance to the top 12. Although I have experienced so many hardships in the early stage, seeing that the national team can achieve such results, including our work is also relatively smooth, I feel that everything is relieved, and all the pressure is relieved. Because of this result, everyone is satisfied and in a happy mood. No matter how tired we are, no matter how hard we work.
After we returned to China, we were not complacent about the results achieved in the top 40, let alone slack off. On the morning of the 19th, Du Zhaocai, deputy director of the State Sports General Administration, held a meeting with me and some members of the team’s coaching team to summarize our gains and losses in this top 40 competition. The results are in the past. We now have to look at the problems and see the greater tasks we face next. So we immediately opened this summary meeting to summarize the aspects of success and some deficiencies, and more importantly, to the next 12 The strong competition raised many issues. We must study these issues carefully and hope to solve them in about half a month, so as to make more adequate preparations for the national football team to prepare for the top 12 matches. We require the national team to enter the top 12 preparation mode from the 19th, and the team training cannot relax just because we arrive at the isolation hotel.
Q: What major difficulties were faced when the entire event moved to the UAE in a hurry? How to overcome it?
Answer: I think there are two biggest difficulties. One is the preparation of the team. Because the original preparations had a detailed plan, but the game was held in a subversive change. I think this is the biggest difficulty. To this end, we have done a lot of work. We did the work of the players and the work of the coaching team. Everyone took these issues seriously. Especially the coaching team headed by Li Tie, including our team leader, has done a lot of meticulous work from it. The most important thing is to adjust the player’s mentality so that everyone can face it calmly, which in turn stimulates the fighting spirit of each player.
The second challenge is the guarantee of the entire competition, namely competition organization and logistical support. We guarantee not only one of our teams, but also four other teams, and all relevant matters need to be implemented by us. This is a very big challenge. Why did we go to 30 staff? These 30 people want to ensure that all these tasks are solved. And the time given to us is less than 72 hours. After 72 hours, everyone should enter the state step by step. Therefore, we must complete these plans in less than 72 hours to ensure that they are feasible.
Question: Can you say that such an experience is a very big baptism, and it is also an inspiration to the growth of the Chinese Football Association team?
Answer: I totally agree with this statement. This is a valuable asset for the Chinese national team and for our Football Association. We have gone through such a big mutation, the team is still able to stabilize the mentality and show a relatively good mental state. Everyone has been tempered a lot. It turned out that everyone did it step by step, but then suddenly they had to switch. After experiencing this training, the ability of the entire national team to resist pressure has improved, which in itself is also a very important sign of team progress.
The staff of our team work very hard in Sharjah. In addition to their own work, they also have to do cheerleaders when the Chinese team has a game, to create a home atmosphere for the national team that is not home.
Therefore, our success this time is the result of the team’s concerted efforts and strong support from all walks of life.
For example, we suddenly had to transfer from Suzhou to Sharjah, and some people had to apply for passports temporarily. The Suzhou Municipal Government immediately supported them. The Suzhou Municipal Government has helped us tremendously from beginning to end. In addition, the Shanghai Municipal Government has also given us great support in terms of entry and exit, such as setting up special channels for us on the premise of complying with the entry and exit epidemic prevention management regulations.
In addition, the chairman of COSCO Group personally made several calls to the general manager of the Dubai company and asked them to fully cooperate with us. They sent a local team of three people to participate in the logistics work with us, sent us Chinese chefs, and prepared zongzi for us during the Dragon Boat Festival, which made us feel a kind of warmth at home.
Q: Including the Chinese national team, a total of 92 people from the Chinese Football Association went to the UAE on this trip. How does the entire team ensure the safety of epidemic prevention?
Answer: We are very resolute in the prevention and control of the epidemic. Before we went to the UAE, we set two goals, one is to ensure the safety of epidemic prevention and to ensure that everyone in our team is not infected. Second, we must ensure that the Chinese team qualify for the top 40. No matter how hard it is, just these two goals!
With these two goals, I think everyone has shown a high degree of enthusiasm for work. We feel that there is no retreat for us, and we must win this battle as a last resort.
We got off the plane and arrived at the Sharjah Hotel, and immediately had a nucleic acid test. At 12 o’clock that evening, the nucleic acid test results were reported, and it was found that three of the hotel staff tested positive and two were suspected to be positive. We immediately called an emergency meeting and took a series of measures, including closing all the rooms of the team, the hotel staff could not come up, and all hotel services were done by our own people. We have arranged a new chef, and all of them are not allowed to go out unless they are working.
We have formulated strict epidemic prevention requirements, strict standards, strict disciplines, strict implementation, and strict inspections. Make it clear that everyone is both the implementer and the supervisor of epidemic prevention, and everyone reminds each other. From June 3 to June 16, we did five nucleic acid tests and three serum tests, and the results were all qualified.
Q: How do you deal with the management and service of the national team?
Answer: I never interfere with the daily training and competition of the Chinese team. But I have requirements for the team and the game.
After we arrived in Sharjah, Du Zhaocai, deputy director of the State Sports General Administration, and I held a team plenary meeting to explain the causes and consequences of the game’s transition to the players, so that everyone can understand that this is a last resort. Everyone must rest assured. We made our efforts to clarify this work, clarify the epidemic prevention requirements here, so that every team member knows our situation, what difficulties we face, and how we should overcome them. We are all doing these tasks.
We have also communicated with the head coach several times. To hear about his difficulties, we also want the head coach to build his confidence. We have also communicated with individual players. These communications are not specific techniques and tactics, but a kind of communication. Mindset, a requirement.
So what do the team members do? I told the team members that you can play with confidence, play with peace of mind, and focus on the game. Let’s do the epidemic prevention work together. Because everyone didn’t know what would happen in this game, we gave the players three reassurances at that time. The first is to believe that we will be able to do a good job in epidemic prevention. As long as we follow the domestic requirements, we will ensure everyone’s health. Second, we must be able to do a good job in guaranteeing. Third, we must ensure that everyone returns to China smoothly. At that time, some people were worried about whether they could come back. These worries are gone. Under pressure, the players feel that they should play the spirit of the Chinese team and play a good image of the national team this year. I think these are very important things.
Q: There are reports that you make Li Tieduo smile and want to infect the team?
Answer: This is true. Because the head coach is under great pressure. Someone told us that when it was known that the team was going to play in the UAE, some players had psychological fluctuations and their training was affected. Emotional fluctuations in that situation are human nature. The player doesn’t know what will happen next, and may be thinking more about how to face those uncertain factors. This situation will affect the head coach team, and Li Tie will be under pressure. So when I was in Sharjah, I told Li Tie to let go of all the pressure. I said that I was very nervous when I saw you all day, and you would laugh when you saw it, but it felt very unnatural to me. I said you can laugh with confidence, give us the pressure, and let us all work together.
Q: After the Chinese team defeated the Syrian team to qualify for the top 40, your celebration in the locker room was really contagious. What happened at that time?
A: After all, I was really happy that day. I think everyone was happy with the victory, so I couldn’t help myself. I have had such an experience, when such a perfect and smooth result is achieved, I think that probably everyone will be like me.
Q: When you were at Shanghai SIPG (now Shanghai Haigang) club, you could say that you sacrificed the club’s interests and sent Wu Lei to Spain to play. Looking back at the decision at that time, what do you think?
Answer: I now think about the road Wu Lei has traveled over the years, and I feel more and more that Wu Lei’s choice is correct, and my choice is also correct. He should be encouraged to go out. If Wu Lei hadn’t gone out at that time, I think he might still be an excellent athlete now, but he would not be as high as he is today.
Only one Wu Lei is definitely not enough. We have already launched the plan and hope that more Wu Lei will go out. I hope that within this year and early next year, not one or two, but four or five people like Wu Lei will go out.
Question: Is Li Tie’s contract renewal confirmed?
Answer: Li Tie’s contract renewal is an outside rumor. When we discussed with the Football Association last year, everyone said that we have assessments and evaluations of coaches every year. As long as the team progresses on the right track, the coaching team should be allowed to work steadily and not change the head coach after a defeat. Therefore, Li Tie does not have the problem of not renewing the contract. Now he is leading the team to prepare for the top 12.
Question: The Suzhou competition was forced to be held in a different location, and it has gone through hardships. How do we plan to secure the home court for the next Top 12 matches?
A: For the next preparations, we have established six topics, one of which involves the arrangement of home and away games. We hope not to give up the home game for our own reasons. The most important thing here is the issue of epidemic prevention. It depends on how our country’s anti-epidemic policy is coordinated with that of FIFA and AFC. This is a factor of uncertainty.
Of course, we have to make full preparations. If we can do it at home, it is best; if we can’t, what should we do? We also determined other issues, such as the Chinese team must play a few quality games in the preparation process. Because the top 12 and the top 40 are absolutely different, there must be a few high-quality games. This is very important for us to prepare for the top 12.
Question: The last question. The Chinese national team’s participation in the top 12 matches during the epidemic will definitely have some impact on the Chinese Super League. How does the Chinese Football Association weigh this?
Answer: Regarding the arrangement of the league, we must basically follow two principles. First, the league is a very important cornerstone of Chinese football, and the league cannot be sacrificed because of the national team. Second, during the preparation and competition of the national team, the Chinese Super League has to be stopped, and the league without the participation of national team players will also lose a lot of meaning. How to develop the Super League in this special situation this year, we are studying three specific plans, and we will also seek the opinions of the Super League clubs, and finally form a generally accepted plan for the Super League.Return to Sohu to see more