1st Edition

China, Football, and Development Socialism and Soft Power

    This book uses football as a lens through which to examine China’s economic development, its political economy, and its political thought.

    Focusing on the Chinese Football Development Plan, this book opens up new perspectives on the concepts of hegemony, soft power, socialism with Chinese characteristics, and China’s rise to the position of geopolitical superpower. Presenting a critical Marxist analysis of “soft power”, and drawing on Gramsci’s conceptualisation of hegemony, this book argues that football can be seen as a resource for seduction and persuasion, and therefore as an instrument to be used in the “hegemonic clash”. Reflecting on the idea of soft power in relation to imperialism and ideology, and standing in contrast to prevailing Western orthodox analyses of Chinese development, this book shows how the “Chinese Football Dream” is a significant component of the “Chinese Dream” of “rejuvenation of the nation” and shows how football can help us to better understand the role of the state as an inducer of development and creative destruction.

    This is fascinating reading for anybody with an interest in sport policy, public policy, sport and society, football, development studies, political economy, or political thought.


    1 Soft power or hegemony?

    2 Soft power with Chinese characteristics

    3 Sports and politics in the People’s Republic of China

    4 The Football Development Plan

    5 The Football Plan, creative destruction, and innovation

    6 Barriers and shortcomings for naturalised players

    7 People-to-people connections: belt, road, and ball

    8 China’s relationship with the Community of Portuguese Language Countries: the case of football

    9 Football, socialism with Chinese characteristics, and hegemony: a possible synthesis and the prospects for an alternative globalisation


    Emanuel Leite Junior is Associate Researcher at the International College of Football at Tongji University, China. He was previously a researcher at the Centre for Asian Studies at the University of Aveiro, Portugal. His research is focused on the political economy and geopolitical implications of football in China. He has written on the history of football in the Soviet Union and on broadcasting rights in Brazilian football.

    Carlos Rodrigues is Associate Professor in the Department of Social, Political and Territorial Sciences at the University of Aveiro, Portugal. His research focuses on territorial innovation systems, particularly on the role science, technology, and innovation policy and practice play in systemic, territorially based development processes, and Asian studies, particularly in the domains of EU–China relations, and sports, power, and development.