China’s national football team (Wikimedia Commons)

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China to build 20,000 new football pitches in bid to be ‘top soccer nation’

10 May 2016 | By GCR Staff | 0 Comments

China’s ambitions to join the likes of Brazil, Germany and Italy as a global superpower in the world of football will be based on a massive programme to install and renovate football grounds across the country.

The government said that the aim was to have more than 70,000 pitches available by 2020. At the end of 2013, the country had about 10,000 pitches in “quite good” condition, and there were a further 40,000 in schools.

The ones at schools are to be refurbished to bring them up to standard and made available to the general population.
A further 20,000 will be built for society at large to use, according to Chinese media.

Professional clubs will also be encouraged to open up their facilities and provide training for people.

China has only ever qualified for one football World Cup, in 2002.

But according to China Daily, the plan issued last month by China's National Development and Reform Commission is aimed at launching China into football’s “elite club” and making it a “top class soccer nation” by 2050.

The policy reflects President Xi Jinping’s enthusiasm for the beautiful game. He is thought to have a spectacular collection of football shirts, begun after being presented with an LA Galaxy strip by David Beckham in 2012.

According to the Xinhua news agency, Xi outlined three wishes for Chinese football when talking with South Korean politician Sohn Hak-kyu in 2011 (he presented Xi with a football signed by Manchester United’s Park Ji-Sung): “To qualify for another World Cup, to host a World Cup and to win a World Cup.”