(Xinhua file photo)
BEIJING, April 12 (Xinhua) -- China's national drive on football development has been endorsed by a newly-issued plan on Monday, aiming at entering the football "elite club" and making the goal of "top class soccer nation" by 2050.
Covering a long-time span of 2016-2050, the 14-page "Medium and Long-Term Plan of Chinese Football Development" outlined a multi-decade vision of the sport's progress in the country and set up a number of pragmatic measures to attain the goals.
The Plan stipulates three-step targets in the span of 35 years, clarifies the soccer pitch construction for per capita allotment, allows favorable financial and taxation policies to support football clubs and calls for soccer culture cultivation nationwide.
Soccer field construction is one of the key measures in the Plan as "0.5-0.7 pitch needs to be available to every 10,000 people in the period of 2016-2020, one pitch available to every 10,000 in 2021-2030 and fully realizing the goal of world top soccer country," according to the Plan.
By 2020, China will have 20,000 soccer academies, 30 million elementary and middle school students playing the sport, among more than 50 million Chinese active in the game, in accordance with the Plan.
At least one standard pitch needs to be constructed in football schools, colleges and universities. In the next four years, China needs to renovate, refurbish and newly build 60,000 pitches nationwide and at least two standard pitches needs to be built for public benefit in each county, except for a few located in mountainous areas.
In line with the Plan, the number of enrolled referees needs to double and 50 Chinese cities need to set up amature soccer matches in the next four years.
The Plan proposes that "two to three Chinese clubs should be at the top level in Asia and also renowned worldwide," driving more Chinese clubs get listed on stock market and get promoted on brand building.
Internet broadcast on Chinese soccer leagues is encouraged and more mobile phone games on football will be developed for APP entertainment and more soccer themed animations and movies will be made to foster football culture in China.
In February, LeSports, China's leading internet-based sports company, signed a wide-ranging strategic partnership with Ti'ao Dongli, acquiring online multimedia rights to the Chinese Super League (CSL) in a deal worth 2.7 billion yuan (420 million dollars), headlined by exclusive live stream broadcast rights covering five seasons for the CSL globally.
The Plan also specified the preferential policy support for football development in the country including beneficial fiscal and financial regulations, land supply, favorable planning and tax reduction. "Enterprises on football goods manufacture and sports event services are encouraged to enter the capital market and issue bonds so long as they meet necessary rules," said the Plan. "The construction of soccer field will be considered in city general planning and annual land supply."
Chinese national team has enjoyed a recent spurt of success under reinstated coach Gao Hongbo, who replaced Frenchman Alain Perrin after he was sacked following a 0-0 draw with Hong Kong, China in November that left China facing elimination.
The Plan was issued by a joint committee of the State General Administration of Sports, the Chinese Football Association, the Ministry of Education and the National Development and Reform Commission.
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