Tuesday, July 05, 2016


Earthy Gonzales Trumps Hulk's Bling

Hulk made the headlines recently after signing for Shanghai SIPG for a mouth watering 320 grand a week. A phenomenal wage packet for a guy who will turn 30 in the near future but seemingly small change for the newly minted Chinese league.

Hulk won't mind. He has scored goals everywhere be it J2 in Japan, Porto in Spain or more recently Zenit St Petersburg and no doubt will score a few in China when the league kicks off there. But apart from the headlines is it a good signing for Chinese football? Is this journeyman striker, a rich journeyman striker, going to benefit the game in China? Is he going to provide the impetus to help the nation qualify for the AFC Asian Cup. Or is he just going to take 16 million quid a year out of the economy?

Let us compare Hulk with another foreign striker...Cristian Gonzales of Arema. Nicknamed El Loco, Gonzales turns 40 next month and has been playing in Indonesia since 2003 when he signed for PSM. Since then he has played for Persik, Persib and Persisam before moving to Malang in 2012 and has scored more than 220 goals in more than 320 games. He has become an Indonesian citizen and gone on to represent his country scoring at almost a goal every two games and shows no sign of slowing down. Gonzales' goals took Indonesia to the final of the ASEAN Football Federation Championships in 2010 before losing to Malaysia.

It is highly unlikely Hulk will stay in China 13 years, become Chinese or even become as highly respected as Gonzales has in Indonesia. Will Hulk even stay 13 months? Will he be remembered when the minted Chinese go after another bling recruit, all smiles, flash car and gold credit card taking money from the local game?

Some other comparisons between Hulk and Cristian Gonzales.

1 - Hulk's salary is equivalent to 545 Gonzales
2 - Hulk's salary could cover the cost of 24 Indonesian teams
3 - Hulk's salary could cover the salaries of every player in Indonesia for one season
4 - One week of Gonzales pay packet is equivalent to 215 minutes for Hulk
5 - One year salary for Hulk is equivalent to 545 years salary for Gonzales
6 - Hulk's salary is the same as selling 136 million Indonesian replica shirts

Bling is bling because that is all it is. It glitters, it shimmers. But all that glitters is not gold. Chinese football is welcome to the headlines Hulk attracts but they are not my kind of headlines. They are not the headlines of football. They are the headlines of sheer, naked opportunism and greed. They are the headlines of a league that sees headlines as an end. The bling is the thing. But when someone sits down to write about football in China and Indonesia whose legacy would be worthy of a chapter? Gonzales or Hulk?

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