In a bizarre coincidence, FIFA has assigned the national Chinese soccer team a ranking analogous to the World Bank’s per capita income. Both cases are a matter of middle-rankings: 95th for the soccer team and 94th for per capita income. The similarities end here, however, as China historically lacks a strong soccer culture. Hypothetically, if Beijing undermined Washington in a hypothetical G2, its soccer team is still light years away from the successes enjoyed by Spain, Brazil’s sparkling game, or Germany’s organization on and off the field of play. This sport’s recent history has been marred by incompetence, corruption, arrests, illegal gambling: events that the political leadership has not wanted or been able to counteract. In 2009, a scandal of enormous proportions—one that made Italy’s pale in comparison—revealed the involvement of team managers, trainers, referees and players. Stricken by sizable fines, many of these offenders also faced prison sentences. Recent years have been full of illicit episodes, a constant negative but apparently not sufficiently embarrassing. Current events represent a simple and criminal continuation of the past. The newspapers reported a media revolt after the Chinese national team’s third consecutive defeat. Losing in-house to the not-compelling Thai national team created widespread discontent. The score—5 to 1—also created a growing suspicion. Newspapers credit the losing record to technical and administrative failures; on the other hand, among social media networks there is talk of match fixing. The evidence lies in the closure of bets at Macau, the Chinese gambling capitol, where agencies refused to accept wagers on a Chinese defeat with 4 discarded goals that was initially offered at 600 to 1 odds. Obviously, there is no lack of comments on the betrayal of Chinese honor in international fields, where the players are accused of being insensitive to national pride and for not satisfying the popular passion that soccer has begun to generate even in China. The Chinese team cannot register a win; they don’t impose their game. Lastly, they lost the qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Despite all this, the sport is growing in popularity and has even surpassed basketball in number of followers. TV networks feature professional European league matches including Serie A, Bundesliga and Premier League whose Sunday matches reach a viewership of 30 million alone. The sums grow when Chinese players compete in foreign championships. Larger still are the increases when Chinese teams draft foreign stars in the twilights of their careers looking for their last opportunities at gainful employment in China. Finally, great coaches have landed in China. Lippi won the Super League with the Guangzhou Evergrande and the Spaniard, Camacho, was welcomed with enthusiasm to lead the national team (although he is now disputed). Nonetheless, the results have been meager even when compared to midgrade soccer teams like South Korea and Japan. The managerial incompetence, the dearth of technical skill, the corruption and lack of interest on Beijing’s part are all valid explanations. There exists another one, perhaps simple in nature, but just as important: Chinese youth don’t play soccer. Almost 200 million watch the games on TV but only 800,000 participate in the sport either professionally or recreationally. It’s an irrelevant percentage: only one person in every 1800 plays soccer in China compared to 1 in 55 in England. What’s missing in China is creativity on the playing field, the daily experience of kids excitedly chasing after a ball, the emotions felt in the locker room, and the liberation from innate social class. Discipline launched their economy but penalized soccer. Accustomed to managing and following direction, China failed to develop the intermediate zone of entrepreneurship, the centerfield where one attacks then falls back to defend. Culturally predisposed to obedience, the Chinese excel at sports in which the systematic application of skills produces inevitable results: swimming, gymnastics, and weight lifting, for example. In soccer, technique, creativity, and shot effect are essential ingredients. Unpredictability often prevails, in strong contrast to a country that fears instability above all else, promotes structure and does not become emotionally entangled in things it can’t control.