China's plan to move from being 83

Updated: 2015-03-20 11:07

By Jack Freifelder(China Daily)

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True football fan

"Many clauses in this landmark document get the issues and solutions absolutely right, so President Xi has confirmed his credentials as a true football fan," Simons wrote. "For the first time, we have a central football edict, a working blueprint that reflects not just the popular feeling, but also the sentiments and best advice of those who are most deeply involved in the game."

Simons said he was also encouraged by the government including national team achievements in the short, medium and long-term goals of the plan.

"By 2025, if the CFA is a real football association and millions have embraced football's positive social values by participating in their local clubs, then we will be on the road to success," Simons wrote.

Wilson said soccer in China has been "improving slowly" over the past few years, but the scale of the new plan shows "the powers-that-be are aware of the vast amount of work" that still needs to be done at the grassroots level.

"China needs more kids playing football more often, they need more places to play, and better coaching personnel and systems," Wilson wrote.

One factor that has also hurt the game in China has been frequent changes in team ownership, a move that has often led clubs to change their name or relocate when a new sponsor comes along, Wilson told China Daily.

"At top level, the Chinese league needs to learn to put fans first by respecting the traditions of their clubs and not changing the names and home city of teams every other year," he wrote. "This makes it impossible to build up proper football culture."

"Even the most successful team, Guangzhou Evergrande, changed its name at the start of this season, adding Taobao to the end," Wilson wrote. "Who knows what they will be called next year?"

Nonetheless, Wilson said he's glad to see the plan for soccer growth in China promoting the development of historic clubs.

"Chinese kids want to watch Manchester United and Barcelona because they have built big followings based on keeping a constant identity over the years," he wrote. "These are teams with a proud history".

"According to FIFA's own statutes, national football associations must be run fully independent from their respective national governments," Wilson wrote. "This is done to give national football associations the independence and power to govern the game in the best interests of football development in each country, and to safeguard them from government meddling or manipulation."

"China's FA has never been independent of government, yet FIFA has never suspended or taken any action against the Chinese FA," he wrote.

Simons said the announcement of China's plan to create a separate governing body for soccer, in lieu of remaining under the jurisdiction of the national sports administration, is a "historic statement" of China's intentions to promote the game of soccer.

"If this particular reform is truly implemented, it will create a CFA in which the stakeholders can lay down long-term foundations," he wrote.

Contact the writer at jack