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FIFA's expertise will help grow the game

By Sun Xiaochen | China Daily | Updated: 2018-10-11 09:21
Zvonimir Boban. [Photo/IC]

FIFA has established a special task force to provide training, management and youth development to bolster Chinese soccer.

Following up on a proposal made by FIFA president Gianni Infantino during his visit to China in June 2017, the soccer's world governing body on Wednesday sent a special task force led by deputy secretary general Zvonimir Boban to Beijing for a two-day workshop to discuss collaborative plans with the Chinese Football Association.

To support the national reform aimed at developing China into a soccer powerhouse by 2050, FIFA is planning a cooperation framework for potential investment.

Boban said the framework is expected to be completed in February.

"Now we are collaborating very well and FIFA is inputting all available effort and investments to support the CFA to draw guidelines for intermediate and long-term goals," Boban said after meeting Du Zhaocai, secretary of the CFA's Party committee.

Du, who also serves as assistant director of the General Administration of Sport of China, said the CFA "appreciates the expertise and resources FIFA offers" and expects to strengthen cooperation through future exchanges.

Boban, a former AC Milan midfielder who captained Croatia to third place at the 1998 World Cup, said soccer success takes time to build - especially in China.

"Europe has played football for more than 100 years and here you just started about 10 years ago. It's already achieving results, but nobody can buy time. You have to stay patient," said the 49-year-old.

To realize the country's dream of eventually hosting and winning the World Cup, China's State Council issued a soccer reform plan in early 2015 with highlights on management optimization, youth participation and national team support.

Stimulated by the reform, investment in the professional league from the country's business sector has soared to make international headlines with huge spending on big-name foreign imports to the Chinese Super League.

To curb irrational investments, the CFA has implemented mandatory rules to limit club spending in the transfer market while encouraging the use of local under-23 players in league games.

"It's about developing a strategy on what do you want from the game," said Boban.

"If you want to build your league, you have to invest in bringing foreign players and learning from them. It's nothing wrong.

"But at the same time you have to develop your football equally to avoid mistakes such as overinvesting. It's a normal process that takes time. You will find the balance."

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