So if you live in Taiwan like I do, then you will hear often about how much the CTFA really want to develop football and make it better. So then imagine my surprise when I saw a Facebook post from a friend yesterday who plays in the league and I noticed the fixtures are still kicking off at 2pm on a Wednesday.
There was nothing special about this Wednesday than any other Wednesday in the lives of most people on the island, you wake up, you go to work, you’re stuck there 8 hours and then you go home. So if most of the island is stuck in work, then how do the CTFA expect to football to ‘grow’ if they still insist on playing games at this ridiculous time.
It’s not just about fans, players in the league have jobs and classes
The reason this kick-off time is problematic is not just about getting people to come and watch the league or generate an interest in football. A lot of players in the league are not even full time, what that means is they will have jobs or classes. Therefore it is crazy the CTFA set the kick-off times at a time which can cause a major problem for some of the teams involved.
Those teams with players having to keep a job, or not get into trouble with their university for skipping classes are playing with one hand tied behind their back at times. How can the league claim be developing football when it isn’t a level playing field?
There’s an opinion amongst some people that the CTFA prefer to have it this way
There is an opinion held by Taiwanese football fans that the CTFA is only interested in doing so much when it comes to ‘developing’ football. These claims get said year after year by the association and to some long-term Taiwanese football fans they obviously sound like hot air.
The creation of a fully professional league, for example, gets mentioned constantly, but there never seems to be any moves towards making that happen. From what I have heard, they intend to use government funding to support the league going professional and if that is the case then it is all well and good at the start but government money won’t be there forever.
If they have a good plan, it is possible to use the government money to start it and then move towards private sponsors and other ways of providing funding. They have a plan on the CTFA webpage, but it is all Chinese and my reading is terrible, and Google translate struggles to work with such big documents.
The creation of a pro league has mentioned forever by the association as a way to help football here and has never happened.
The reason Taiwanese football fans believe that the CTFA don’t care about having people interested in football is that they believe there are a lot of shady goings on behind the scenes and if more people were interested or the team became too successful then they’d be found out with more spotlight put on the team. This is the opinion I have taking from reading Facebook and Twitter with replies about different topics from Taiwanese fans.
I don’t believe a pro league will be successful
I don’t believe a pro league would be successful if what I have read and heard is factually correct. If they intend to fully use government funding to create a pro league, then at some point that funding will be cut off. When that happens what next? Will the league go back to semi-pro, or will have the association thought of a plan to move from government money to private investment?
The only way a professional league can be professional is by getting the public interested in it, and therein lies another major problem. Football is not a popular sport in Taiwan, it is a minority sport but what I think the CTFA fail to actually realize or care about is that football popularity in Taiwan is growing rapidly and is easily the sport with the biggest potential to catch the excitement of local Taiwanese who currently don’t care about the sport.
If the league goes professional in its current guise it is doomed to failure because football is a tribal game, people like seeing their town, city, village compete with someone else’s and the Taiwanese Premier League doesn’t offer this. Hell, the baseball only has 4 teams and offers this better than the football does. Fujen University is based in Xinzhuang for example, what is stopping them from becoming Xinzhuang football club, or if a bigger catchment area would be deemed better then why not New Taipei Football Club? Fujen already have a home ground after what they built for the University Games, it makes perfect sense and is a simple way of generating interest with a bit of marketing thrown at it too.
However a lot of what teams and sports associations do in Taiwan is very insular thinking, I find they aren’t willing to look at the bigger picture, or concept and just think what the best is for us? And what the best is for us right now?
The teams involved don’t look at how to evolve football in Taiwan to keep it developing and growing for the future, like most things in Taiwan the ‘developing football’ line is just selfishness wrapped up in fancy words to make people think they care about developing football. What they are really interested in is having a professional league for themselves now, and not about the future generations, this is why they don’t care where the money comes from and if it can be maintained – the selfishness dictates they want to have a pro league, they want to be professional and want it now, it doesn’t matter if the structure or set up is of solid foundations because the future can go take a run and jump.
So even if Taiwan fulfil their plan and create a pro league, it isn’t sustainable in my opinion and is built on the shakiest of foundations.