Football: China taps Alain Perrin as national coach - report

China's football association has appointed former Lyon and Marseille boss Alain Perrin to manage its underperforming national football team, state-run media said Wednesday.

"Perrin was appointed coach of the national football team of China," said Yu Hongchen, the association's vice-president, according to the China News Service.

The national team has been a consistently poor performer and is currently ranked 88th in the world by FIFA.

Authorities fired Spaniard Jose Antonio Camacho as coach last year after a string of defeats, including a humiliating 5-1 loss to Thailand.

Camacho was reported to have signed an $8 million-a-year contract, putting him among the world's top 10 best-paid managers, when he arrived in 2011.

Disappointing results from the national team -- in contrast to growing success in many other sports -- have become a reliable source of distress for China's millions of football fans.

A lack of grassroots support for the game and endemic corruption are blamed for the malaise.

China have qualified for the World Cup finals just once, in 2002, when the team was eliminated at the group stage without scoring a single goal.

Perrin, 57, who led French side Lyon to a league and cup double in 2008, also managed Saint-Etienne and had an eight-month stint at English side Portsmouth in 2005 -- where he achieved just four victories in 20 Premiership matches.

More recently he managed a team in Qatar, which is to host the 2022 football World Cup.

The Chinese Football Association has attempted to raise interest in the domestic soccer league by drafting in David Beckham as its ambassador.

The recently-retired former England captain visited China several times last year. Officials hope he can help repair the shattered image of the league, which has been hit by a series of match-fixing scandals.