Futsal to expand in southern China

Updated: 2012-12-17 22:23

By Qiu Quanlin in Guangzhou (China Daily)

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A non-governmental soccer association will stage more professional futsal games over the next five years to help boost Chinese soccer development.

A futsal cup competition between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao will be launched next year, according to Liu Xiaowu, director of the Guangdong Futsal Association.

After being approved by the provincial civil affairs department, the association was inaugurated on Saturday in Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong province, becoming China's first soccer organization without governmental administration.

"We will also organize competitions between Guangdong and its neighboring provinces of Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan and Hainan and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region," Liu said.

Liu said more games will be held in neighboring regions.

"We will develop more members in the years ahead. As a non-governmental association, we believe the organization will play a big role in boosting local soccer development," Liu said.

The association developed a regional professional league, called Yuechao, or the Guangdong Super League in 2010. A number of foreign players from Brazil and British joined the eight teams in the league.

"Besides the super league, we will have second and third-tier competitions from next year," Liu said.

Futsal, which is played between two teams of five, is a variant of association soccer that is held on a smaller playing surface, mainly indoors. The game has developed rapidly in Guangdong, with two independent leagues being launched in recent years.

In addition to Yuechao, the Pearl Super League, which was launched by the government-owned soccer association in Guangdong in October 2009, is the first regional professional sport league in China.