Brazil is ready to help develop football in China

Updated: 2014-06-09 04:46

By ZHANG FAN in Sao Paulo (China Daily USA)

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 As Brazil gets ready to host the 2014 World Cup and its team plays Croatia on opening day, the head of Brazil's Sports Ministry said his country is willing to help China develop football into a national sport.

"Brazil is willing to provide all kinds of support for China to help it get into the World Cup and even win the championship one day," said Brazilian Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo.

China has been trying to learn football from Brazil, whose football team is world famous, and the two governments signed an agreement in 2011 to deepen cooperation on that effort.

"Through the sports ministries of China and Brazil, the two countries have had in-depth cooperation," said Rebelo, "but the two governments need to strengthen the communication so we can understand the necessities of each other.''

Rebelo told China Daily in an interview on May 29 that a key to developing football in a country is to spark high interest among the general population and make football a part of daily life.

He said China may need a long time to introduce the sport into people's lives, and the first thing to do is to provide facilities for children to play football no matter where they are, in cities or villages. ``The government needs to build small- or medium-sized football playgrounds for children so they can find a place to play football just around the corner," he said.

Each country that wants to develop its football needs to train talented players from a very young age, said Rebelo. "It is impossible for a country to have a strong national team without a complete football-training system that involves different age levels,'' he added.

"People need to understand that playing football is not a thing only for professional players or rich people, this sport needs to be open to all the social classes," said Rebelo. "China not only needs a professional team, but also teams at different levels from communities to cities."

Brazil's football team has contributed many outstanding players to top football clubs such as Diego Maradona, Pele and Ronaldo Luis Nazrio de Lima.

Since 1993, many Chinese players have traveled to Brazil to learn how to play football. At the end of 2010, about 21Chinese football players aged 13 to 16 went to the Ole Club in Sao Paulo for a three-year training program.

Brazil's largest football club, Corinthians, signed Chen Zhizhao to its team in 2012, making him the first Chinese football player on a Brazilian professional team. Many Brazilian football players also have gone to China to play for local clubs, such as Dario Conca and Edson Carvalho Hudson.

"Such exchanges can help advance the football development of China to some extent, but China needs to remember that it cannot actually achieve development with the help of foreign players," Rebelo said. "China needs to grow its own football players and coaches, otherwise it will end up like Britain, which has the best football clubs in the world but without a good national football team.''

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has officially invited Chinese President Xi Jinping to watch the final game of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in July. Xi has expressed his passion for football many times and even called himself a "football fan" during his visits to Mexico in 2013.

"I know President Xi Jinping is fond of football and this definitely makes the relationship between China and Brazil even closer," said Rebelo. "Xi's visit will be a good opportunity to advance the bilateral ties between the two countries and Brazil will welcome him warmly."

Rebelo said Brazilians not only "love" football, but regard it as a symbol of their national identity, which shows the values of the country and the people.

"I hope China can become a country with strong football teams one day because it will not only benefit China, but also the world," he added.

Brazil is ready to help develop football in China
Brazilian Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo [Zhang Fan/China Daily]