While China is a country well known in football circles as willing to pay high prices to attract big name players, with a billionaire set willing to invest heavily in European clubs, it’s not a team that you automatically think of when you imagine World Cup winners. In fact, they have only progressed past the qualifying rounds on one occasion, and in other years, have not even entered the draw.
What are China’s football aspirations?
China aspires to be a World Cup qualifier again and even hopes to host the event in years to come. It also has ambitious plans to increase the number of pitches in China to 70,000 and the number of training centres to 20,000 by 2020. It would like to produce a World Cup winning team by 2050. All this takes money and ESPN reports that Chinese football is set for a significant funding boost after the Chinese Football Association announced it would spend nearly double its 2016 budget on the game over the next 12 months.
How could UK football help them win the World Cup?
Having this increased number of facilities will not in itself create a World Cup winning team. China also hopes to pull on the knowledge and expertise of UK coaches and businesses which produce the tools to successfully run their football facilities. Tools such as line marking equipment, goalposts and grass maintenance.
To help attract these sorts of businesses, Beijing has reduced taxes and removed red tape to make the process much easier. This will give UK companies who supply products like football kits, such as https://www.kitking.co.uk/football-kits/, access to an emerging and lucrative marketplace.
By creating this grassroots infrastructure, China is hoping to pull on the knowledge and experience of the UK football industry, to help develop its teams from the bottom up, focussing primarily on youth training and development.
China also needs to increase the popularity of football at a local level. Currently, the sport is only really followed by a set of diehard fans. They need to create the type of club culture which already exists within the UK and Europe, if they are to spark the imagination of young players and give them the desire to take up the sport.