Former Chinese international rewarded for his ambassadorial role. Apparently.
English football today inducted a little-known Chinese player into the National Football Museum’s hall of fame.
The induction of former Manchester City defender Sun Jihai has been described by one MP as a “grubby little fix” to buy influence during the Chinese president’s state trip to Britain.
Sun took his place alongside some of the all-time greats of the English game including Bobby Moore, Stanley Matthews, George Best and Kenny Dalglish.
The decison was questioned by shadow sport minister Clive Efford.
“I don’t think [Sun’s] record justifies his selection for the hall of fame,” said Efford. “I think it’s a grubby little fix and I think this sort of thing has gone on around football for far too long, where money has dictated what’s happened and not what goes on on the football field.”
A spokesperson at the National Football Museum said the award was in recognition of Sun’s “ambassadorial role in enhancing the profile and popularity of English football to a Chinese audience and to coincide with the state visit to the UK by President Xi Jinping”.
The spokesperson said the decision was instead made by the museum’s management.
Fellow hall of fame inductee Gary Neville was present at the ceremony.
Neville, reports the Guardian, has been a recent beneficiary of Chinese generosity, after the property company he owns with fellow ex-Man Utd player Ryan Giggs received investment from Beijing Construction and Engineering Group (BCEG) for a £200m regeneration project in Manchester city centre.
What are the chances?