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Tuesday, January 10, 2017, 10:18

Yao to co-lead CBA election group

By Sun Xiaochen
Yao to co-lead CBA election group
Former Chinese basketball star Yao Ming arrives at the red carpet for the premiere of the Manderin stage production Lion King at Shanghai Disney Resort in Shanghai on June 14, 2016. (STR / AFP)

Retired basketball star Yao Ming's pivotal role in the game's professional reform in China grew on Monday with his involvement in the upcoming election of the new Chinese Basketball Association leadership.

Yao, a former NBA All-Star, was named on Monday the co-head of a preparatory group for the general election of the CBA, which is scheduled for March, the CBA said in a statement.

According to a report in Basketball Pioneers newspaper on Jan 2, the General Administration of Sport of China, the nation's sports regulator, made 10 proposals during an internal meeting on basketball's future development, two of which involved Yao. The first called for discussion of Yao becoming the new chairman, and the second reportedly was to invite Yao to be head coach of the national men's team.

This job is way different from all the previous ones of mine

Yao Ming

Li Yingchuan, assistant director of the administration, said in a briefing on Monday that the new election of CBA leadership will be a major step forward for the management of professional sports.

"We have to reshuffle the leadership structure and separate pro sports management from the traditional government-run system. The reform is to make the CBA a full-fledged nongovernmental organization," he said.

Current CBA leaders, including chairman Yu Zaiqing, were appointed by the administration from its own officials, while the new election is expected to exclude them from the CBA's top leadership.

Li Jinsheng, the current vice-chairman of the CBA and another co-host of the group, said the new association leader will make great contributions to the game and so should have a professional background with knowledge of the game and a high social reputation.

Yao, China's only Basketball Hall of Famer, led the national team to eighth place at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and has pushed for the game's professional reform in China.

"I appreciate everybody's trust to involve me in the preparatory work for the election of the new CBA to contribute to the game's development in a new role," Yao, the owner of CBA club Shanghai Sharks, said on Monday.

"This job is way different from all the previous ones of mine. I have to listen more, observe more and learn more from others and work together with people in the basketball circle to be competent at it," said Yao, 36, who retired in 2011.

Observers said there would be an apparent conflict of interest if Yao put on multiple hats as the association leader and a team owner as well as his recent appointment as vice-chairman of the CBA League (Beijing) Sports Co, the league's commercial promotional agency, which was established in November.

"I support Yao taking over the CBA, but for the job as the national head coach and other roles there should be a more scientific and fair system to recruit the best possible talent," said Su Qun, a well-known basketball commentator.

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