The Chinese President Xi Jinping´s passion for football and all his personal efforts to improve national standards in the sport are very well known.
Currently China is ranked number 81 in FIFA world ranking. However recently it has set out its grand plan to become one of the world’s strongest football teams by 2050.
The time frame to do so was officially stated in the most recent notice on the subject, named Opinions on Accelerating the Development of Sports Industry and Promoting Sports Consumption (“Notice”), released in the beginning of April by the National Development and Reform Commission, Chinese Football Association, Sports Bureau and Ministry of Education.
The short term goal announced is to increase the football playing population in China to 50 million by 2020, among which 30 million should be represented by elementary and high school students, to reach about 20 thousand football specialized schools in China and lay the foundations for the industry.
As a midterm goal, to be achieved by 2030, Beijing expects to have his men’s football team among the top Asia’s national team and its women’s team ascending in the world´s first class football team list. They hope to reach the average of 1 football field per 10 thousand people.
Finally the Notice states that, by 2050, China’s national football team should be among the world’s strongest in the world.
In order to raise people’s interest in the most popular sport in the world, China has embarked on a massive football spending spree to attract world class players and coaches to the Chinese Super League, set up thousands of training academies, and work with FIFA to improve Chinese football basic foundations at all levels. With the recently released Notice, such tendency became stronger as an officially announced target for the next years.
The above goals are followed by the improvement and vigorous expansion of the whole football service industry, including TV-media, advertisement, network service, popular entertainment and other related industries; football stadium operation, football training, football agency and other related service market; football finance and insurance industries and football lottery
In the path to improve China’s football level, attention and open support from the central government is definitely a key factor. The announced Notice is expected to promote opening to foreign investment in football industry and to optimize the shareholding structure of those domestic football clubs, as well as to encourage international football exchange activities. Such measures should also welcome more private capital investment, both domestic and foreign, in the sports industry.
Aligned with the 13th Five Year Plan´s goals to continue raising the consumption´s and service sector´s contribution to economic growth, the Notice unveils the intention to make the ‘sports economy’ one of the major drivers of the increase on domestic consumption. Sports is nowadays a $60 billion industry in China and the goal is to be an $800 billion market by 2025 through the combination of domestic league growth, foreign league investments, increased viewership and participation, as well as merchandise sales.