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China unveils 30-year football plan

BBC News BBC News 11/04/2016

China has unveiled a strategy to become a "world football superpower" by 2050, with plans to get 50 million children and adults playing the game by 2020.

Other targets include having at least 20,000 football training centres and 70,000 pitches in place by 2020.

While China excels at the Olympics and Paralympics, it has only ever qualified for one football World Cup, in 2002.

President Xi Jinping is a football enthusiast and previously said he wants China to win the World Cup in 15 years.

The plan was published by the Chinese Football Association (in Chinese) on Monday.

It sets out short, medium and long-term targets, including ensuring there is one football pitch for every 10,000 people by 2030.

The men's football team should become one of the best in Asia, while the female football team should be ranked as a world-class team, by 2030, the plan said.

By 2050, the report added, China should be "a first-class football superpower" that "contributes to the international football world".

China's men's team currently sits 81st in the Fifa world rankings, out of 204 nations, below far smaller nations such as Haiti, Panama and Benin.

The football league has been hit by corruption in recent years, with 33 players and officials banned in 2013 for match-fixing, although efforts have been made to clean up the sport.

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