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January 14, 2017

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NBA Hall of Fame member Yao Ming on track to become CBA chief

NATIONAL Basketball Association Hall of Fame member and Shanghai Sharks owner Yao Ming has emerged as the favorite to become the new president of the Chinese Basketball Association.

The CBA will hold a national congress in Beijing in March, during which a new team of leaders will be selected. At a media briefing in Beijing this week, Yao and the association’s vice president Li Jinsheng were unveiled as the two leaders of the congress’ preparatory group.

Domestic media, including Xinhua news agency, believe the appointment is a hint that Yao will very likely be elected as the new president of the association at the congress.

The 36-year-old Yao is currently the vice president of CBA League (Beijing) Sports Co., a company registered last October in which the 20 CBA clubs own 70 percent share. The company is expected to take charge of the league’s commercial operation, including advertisement and broadcasting rights, starting from April. Currently, the league is run by the basketball management center of China’s General Administration of Sports.

The central government has called for reforms in the country’s sports system, including the relationship between sports bureaus, associations and professional leagues. Football and basketball are among the two major disciplines where early reforms can be expected.

Last Thursday, the GAS shut its football management center, which used to manage the country’s domestic leagues. Officials of the management center were at the same time leaders of the Chinese Football Association. The move means the CFA will be separated from the GAS and become an independent organization.

China’s basketball is planning similar reforms. At the media briefing, the GAS claimed that the CBA’s congress will embody “a daring and revolutionary reform” that has been encouraged in the sports system.

The GAS also announced criteria for the new president. He or she should boast a professional background and be familiar with the development of basketball in both China and abroad. The new president should also own a high social recognition and have contributed to the game in the country and who can help raise Chinese basketball’s level of influence.

The criteria were deemed by domestic media as tailor-made for Yao. Xinhua commented that Yao’s possible nomination would be in line with international trend, as it is a common practice for retired sports stars to take leading roles in sports organizations and associations.

Shanghai-native Yao is yet to comment on the possibility of him becoming the new president, only saying he would fulfill his duties as the leader of CBA congress’ preparatory group.

Xinhua suggested that Yao may have to compromise between his role at the Shanghai Sharks and his likely CBA position.


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