On any other continent than North America the word football applies to what Americans call soccer. It's the most popular sport in the world and the ultimate game is the final of the World Cup.
In China they say zu qiu, because zu means foot. Recently, the out of control cheating and corruption in Chinese football was brought into the public eye by the arrival of two foreign players to the Shanghai Shenhua team (the "h" is hard when you pronounce it). After being used as pawns and not getting paid, these two outstanding players joined famous teams in Europe.
They'd played in a country where ethics had nothing to do with football and many games were fixed.
The Chinese sum up their attitude towards the state of Chinese football in this famous joke:
A Korean, a Japanese, and Chinese football fan die on the same day.
When they appear before God they all have the same question, "when will our country win the World Cup?"
God looks at the Korean man (Hanguoren) and says "Korea will win the World Cup in 2020."
Then he looks at the Japanese man (Ribenren) and says "Japan will win the World Cup in 2040."
Finally he gets around to the Chinese guy (Zhongguoren) and says "I'll be dead before China wins the World Cup."