China craves sporting recognition and has a huge passion for football, but development of the domestic game has been blighted by corruption and general apathy. Rowan Simons refuses to allow Chinese football to wallow in the gutter. Egan Richardson on an influential figure in Beijing.
Few British people have as deep an understanding of and passion for China as Rowan Simons, who moved to Beijing in the late 1980s and has lived there ever since. He has enough in his media businesses to keep him busy – the group consists of three companies, and does everything from media production to strategic consulting, from event organising to communications – but one thing has given him a sense of mission.“Football has always been my passion,” says Simons in a phone interview conducted with radio86.com just before he ran out of the door for a training session. “I started playing as soon as I came to China, but I realised very quickly that football in China was very different from football in the UK, and elsewhere. In the mid-90s I was lucky enough to be a co-commentator on English Premier League and FA Cup matches on Bejing TV, so I became very well known to football fans as the English guy who talked about football.” (more…)