The man whose reforms helped Japan become one of the best soccer teams in Asia believes Team China’s faltering fortunes are due to a lack of motivation and determination from the players.,Saburo Kawabuchi, the founder of the J. League and a former president of the Japan Football Association (JFA), told Xinhua in a recent interview that the Chinese players are a group of “spoiled rich people “that show little desire to fight for the national team.,”Chinese Super League players have much more money than those playing in the J. League or the South Korean league,” said the 85-year-old.,”They are happy with the money earned at home and have lost the desire to play at better foreign clubs. I think they are spoiled.”,Kawabuchi was instrumental in the professionalization of Japanese soccer in the early 1990s, with the J.League inaugurated in 1993.,A year later, China also launched its own pro league. However, three decades down the line, the results between the two countries compare very differently.,Japan qualified for its first World Cup in 1998 and will make a seventh consecutive appearance in the finals in Qatar in November. China, on the other hand, has failed to build on its solitary World Cup appearance, which came in 2002.,During qualifying for Qatar, China lost both its matches to Japan, 1-0 last September and 2-0 in January.,”I was shocked by China’s performances. How could they become such a weak team? You cannot find a single good player, and they are not playing like a team either. I could not see any desire from the players to win the match,” he said.,”Thirty years ago, I was invited by the Chinese Football Association to give my input on the formation of the professional league. At that time, I said China would become the best team in Asia because China has the biggest population. And most importantly, China had many good players. But now everything has changed.”,Kawabuchi said that at club level, Chinese teams are often divided because players from different provinces or cities cannot get along.,”Takeshi Okada told me about this kind of discord after returning from the Chinese Super League and complained that it’s too difficult to coach a Chinese team,” he said.,Okada, now vice-president of the JFA and a former manager of the Japanese national team, was the head coach of Hangzhou Lyucheng from 2011 to 2013.,Looking ahead to the World Cup in Qatar, Kawabuchi, himself a former national team player and manager, said Japan should feel “lucky” to be drawn with Spain and Germany in Group E.,”We don’t have a lot of chances to play these two great teams,” he said.,In 2005, during Kawabuchi’s reign as president, the JFA declared that Japan’s long-term aim was to lift the World Cup trophy by 2050.Seventeen years on, he believes it is still a realistic goal.,”There are about 60 Japanese players in Europe and five first-team players in the top five leagues,” he said. “If that figure rises to 20, we would be more confident of beating the European powers.”,Kawabuchi represented Japan at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and participated in the 1984 Los Angeles Games as a head coach. In 2019, he was named Mayor of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Village and was almost installed as president of Tokyo 2020 after Yoshiro Mori resigned in early 2021.,”Somebody recommended me to become the president,” he said. “But I truly believe that Seiko Hashimoto is the right choice. I think I was very lucky not to be appointed.”,Xinhua