Ronaldo to open 30 soccer schools in China

Updated: 2015-10-05 05:07

By Ji Ye(China Daily Latin America)

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Ronaldo to open 30 soccer schools in China

Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo Nazario de Lima (left) shake hands with Carlos Wizard Martins during the launch of their first "Ronaldo Academy", a franchise of soccer schools, in Campinas, Brazil, on Sept 28. Ronaldo and Martins, president of the academy, plan to open 30 soccer schools in China. Rahel Patrasso / For China Daily

Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo will open 30 soccer schools in China to train Chinese youngsters and help developChinese soccer.

Ronaldo, popularly dubbed "the phenomenon", made the announcement on Sept 28 at the opening ceremony for his soccer school in Campinas of Sao Paulo state.

"Besides the business factor, the major reason for me to open soccer schools in China is because there are lots of soccer fans and players in the country, and the Chinese government and civil organizations also focus on soccer development. I hope my method of soccer training could help develop Chinese soccer," Ronaldo told China Daily. "I think Chinese soccer has themass base and determination, but it may still lack the proper concept and training method."

Ronaldo is considered by experts and fans to be one of the greatest football players of all time. He is one of only four players to have won theFIFAWorld Player of the Year award three times or more, along with Zinedine Zidane,Lionel MessiandCristiano Ronaldo. He also won the Ballon d'Or twice, in 1997 and again in 2002.

Ronaldo said soccer in Chinese soccer has become an attractive investment. According to statistics released by Germany’s Transfer Market, the Chinese Super League(CSL) spent a record 108 millioneuros ($121.77 million) to buy players and coaches on the 2014/2015 transfer market.

The Chinese league, which has been professional for only 20 years, stands second to only the

English Premier League in terms of the amount of money spent on transfers, topping most of the top-flight leagues around the world.

CSL recently sold its broadcasting rights for 8 billion yuan ($1.26 billion) for 2016-2020, much higher than expected, which might be an indication that interest in China's sports industry is about to take off.

The Chinese government published an ambitious soccer reform plan earlier this year. Its includes having the women's team return to the world top-class level as a mid-term goal and the men's team joining the world's leading soccer powers in the long run. Bidding to host the World Cup is also listed as a long-term goal.

Despite the investment and reform plan, China has seen low performance by the women and men. The men's team has qualified for one World Cup finals, in 2002. The women's side is struggling to recreate their glory as the 1999 World Cup runners-up.

Carlos Wizard Martins, president of Ronaldo's soccer academy, believes that with the school's help China can make improvements on the World Cup stage.

He said China is the most important market for Ronaldo's soccer schools. Ronaldo and Martins have opened some soccer schools in the United States and Brazil, but the total number of schools in those countries will be much less than the total in China.

Martins said the Ronaldo soccer schools in China will be mainly located inBeijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen and operate on a franchise model. They plan to cooperate with Chinese public schools and soccer schools.

Martins said he will accompany Ronaldo to Beijing in November and attend the opening ceremony of their soccer school in China. They will also discuss with Chinese professionals how to deepen their cooperation with the soccer industry.