Chinese football not good enough for Bird's Nest

Beijing's national Bird's Nest stadium will not stage local football matches next year as its managers fear the Chinese league's low standing could sully the iconic Olympic venue's image, local media reported today.

Chinese Super League (CSL) runners-up Beijing Guo'an had shelved a plan to play home games there next season, as the stadium manager said it would host only "high quality" events, the Beijing Evening Post said.

"We don't want to put any shame on the Bird's Nest," club owner Guo'an Group's vice president Luo Ning was quoted by the paper as saying.

"The Bird's Nest is certainly great. But currently, Chinese football does not deserve it," Luo said.

Both the stadium and club are owned by Guo'an Group's parent company CITIC Group.

Since qualifying for the 2002 World Cup finals, China have struggled. Fans have turned away from the game in droves, disillusioned by match-fixing scandals and poor crowd behaviour.

They were knocked out of the Asian qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup finals earlier this year, while the Olympic team failed to advance beyond the group stage at the Beijing Games in August, prompting criticism in local newspapers.

Luo added that Guo'an's average attendance of 10,000 spectators would not make good use of an 80,000-seat stadium.

The venue's manager, National Stadium Co Ltd, said it wanted to stage showcase events, such as international athletics meetings and soccer matches for big-brand clubs like Real Madrid.

"The Bird's Nest won't host low-level (Chinese Super League) matches to destroy our own brand," its president Li Hang told Xinhua news agency in a separate report on its website (www.xinhuanet.com).

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