SUPERPOWER: Members of the Chinese national football team pose for a group picture in 2011
SUPERPOWER: Members of the Chinese national football team pose for a group picture in 2011

Country aims to become global force in football by 2050

China wants to become a ‘world football superpower’ by 2050 and aims to get 50 million of China’s 1.357 billion children and adults kicking the ball by 2020.

Another aspiration the country has is by 2020, they would like to have at least 20,000 football training centres and 70,000 pitches in place.

President Xi Jingping is a big football fan and has said previously that he wants China to win the World Cup over the next 15 years.

While China shines at the Olympics and Paralympics, the country has only every competed in one edition of the world’s biggest football match – in 2002 – but the Chinese Football Association is planning to do a lot more than just qualify over the next few years.

The men’s team was number 81 in the world in a ranking released by International Federation of Football Association, also known as FIFA, on April 7th, 15 places higher than the rankings from late March.

The rise was aided by a 2-0 victory over Qatar in a 2018 World Cup qualifying match, a victory that helped the squad narrowly avoid elimination.

The women’s team was ranked No. 12 in the world by FIFA as of March 25th.

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’.

The documents states that in the next five years, China will produce two to three first class football clubs. The number of registered referees is expected to double in the next five years.

The sport has been hit with corruption in recent years, after 33 players and officials were banned in 2013 for match-fixing.