China’s Blueprint for Reaching Top Ranks of Soccer

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Chinese players celebrating in Xi’an last month after defeating Qatar in a qualifying match for the 2018 World Cup. China hopes to field one of the world’s leading national teams by 2050.

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Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — It may not rank alongside the names of Brazil or Barcelona, but China is hoping to take its place in the annals of soccer history.

On Monday, the National Development and Reform Commission of China released a plan to give the country one of the world’s leading national teams by 2050. The first stage, already underway, is to introduce soccer to 20,000 schools, with 30 million children playing the game regularly by the end of the decade.

The midterm stage, to take place from 2021 to 2030, is for the men to become one of the standout teams in Asia.

Apart from reaching the final of the 2004 Asian Cup on home soil, China has never been that type of team. The national team has long been in the shadow of its regional rivals South Korea and Japan, which also has a plan to be world champion by 2050.

“The Chinese sports industry is developing,” Gao…

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