China’s soccer governing body implements department restructuring amid anti-corruption drive

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

The Chinese Football Association (CFA) initiated a substantial reshuffle on Monday following the unveiling of a significant restructuring plan aimed at optimizing its internal organization.

The number of departments within the CFA has been reduced from 19 to 14.

The departments that underwent changes or were merged include the former Strategic Planning Department, Men’s Youth Training Department, Member Association Department, Five-a-Side and Beach Soccer Department, as well as the Venue and Equipment Department.

As part of the restructuring process, it was announced on Monday that all mid-level managerial positions, including those of the association’s deputy secretaries-general, would be temporarily vacated, pending further personnel arrangements following the organizational restructuring.

Preparatory heads have been appointed for each of the new 14 departments, with the responsibility of finalizing departmental personnel adjustments, defining departmental functions, and facilitating work handovers within a week’s timeframe.

Formal appointments for all mid-level management positions are scheduled to follow thereafter.

According to a 2023 report by China Sports Daily, the CFA employs approximately 150 full-time staff members.

Recent weeks have witnessed significant transformative cases in Chinese soccer.

Several high-profile former CFA officials have been imprisoned, including former CFA president Chen Xuyuan. Additionally, the trial of former national soccer team head coach Li Tie, whose investigation in November 2022 sparked a nationwide anti-corruption campaign, has commenced.

Though several other key figures, such as Du Zhaocai, former deputy minister of the General Administration of Sport of China, and Liu Yi, former executive committee member of the CFA, are still awaiting trial, the swift judicial proceedings underscore China’s determination to root out corruption from its soccer landscape.

With a renewed sense of optimism, fans and the general public are hopeful that these measures will steer Chinese soccer toward a path of sustainable growth and success, analysts say.

“The significance of the anti-corruption campaign and institutional reforms in soccer far exceeds the outcome of any single team’s performance on the international stage,” Mao Jiale, a Chengdu-based sports commentator, told the Global Times.

“The reforms could herald a fundamental shift toward governance and transparency, which is crucial for realizing the long-awaited rejuvenation of Chinese soccer.”