Students warm up before a training session at Evergrande soccer academy in Qingyuan, China. File photo/ Reuters
SHANGHAI: China wants its domestic league to be the best in Asia and “number six in the world” as the country ramps up its ambitions to become a major footballing power by 2050.
The Chinese Super League (CSL) has made headlines in recent years by luring big-name players and coaches from Europe with hefty salaries.
But Chinese players are yet to make an impact with the national team 72nd in the FIFA rankings and only Wu Lei, the Espanyol forward, playing regularly in a major European league.
The Chinese Football Association (CFA) and football-fan President Xi Jinping have big plans, however, and want to host and even one day win the World Cup.
A better CSL is a priority, Li Yuyi, the CFA vice-president and CSL chairman, said, in the hope that will ultimately benefit the national side.
“We will work hard to develop our league to be in the top in Asia and number six in the world,” Xinhua news agency quoted Li as saying.
“It is a general rule that if a team had a good result in the World Cup, it always had many players (who) played in the world-leading professional leagues.”
The CSL had average crowds of 24,000 in 2018, making it the sixth-best supported after the English Premier League, the Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A and Mexico's Liga MX, according to Xinhua.
Under Xi, China launched a football development plan in 2015 that aims to get hundreds of millions of children into the sport.
The government will this year begin a pilot scheme introducing football to kindergartens across the world's most populous country.
President Xi Jinping has vowed to make China a footballing force and is prepared to go to great lengths to do it, sending thousands of toddlers to “Football-focused” kindergartens.
Marcello Lippi was back as coach of China on Friday, four months after the World Cup winner quit and following a failed stint by fellow Italian Fabio Cannavaro.
A month ago, I declared that President Donald Trump’s trade war against China looked like it might be winding down. I was wrong. Instead of capitulating in exchange for some agricultural purchases and other minor concessions, Trump is doubling down. He’s raising tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports
With a growing economy at his back and little resistance from Republicans, President Donald Trump has been free to impose tariffs on America’s trading partners with few political repercussions. Yet his protectionist approach — particularly his heavy-handed tactics with China,
VAR denied Manchester City a win against Tottenham for the second time in four months as the visitors secured a 2-2 draw at the Etihad on Saturday despite being largely outclassed by the Premier League champions.
Al Jazira have completed the signing of Serbian defender Milos Kosanovic from Belgian Club Standard Liege. The 29-year-old has signed a two-year contract and will join up with his new team-mates in Abu Dhabi ahead of the start of the 2019-20 season.
Barcelona made a nightmare start to the defence of their La Liga title on Friday by losing Luis Suarez to injury and then losing 1-0 to Athletic Bilbao, after a sensational late volley from substitute Aritz Aduriz.