BEIJING - Chinese commercial real estate
company Dalian Wanda will spend 500 million yuan ($77.3 million)
over the next three years to boost the country's
poorly-performing football teams, state media reported.
The deal reached between Dalian Wanda and the Chinese
Football Association (CFA) would include the hiring of
world-class foreign coaches and sending young players to Europe
for training, the China Daily and Xinhua news agency said.
"The progress of Chinese football depends on the emergence of
high-level young players," the China Daily quoted Wei Di, who
took over as head of the CFA last year, as saying.
"China's negligence in developing teenage football directly
lead to the slump in the sport in recent years."
While 500 million yuan was a good start it was still "not
enough", he added.
Dalian Wanda Chairman Wang Jianlin said the deal would be
extended if the cooperation proved effective over the next three
years, otherwise they might pull out.
"I hope our cooperation will reawaken people's passion for football," the China Daily quoted him as saying.
Dalian Wanda is not new to the football scene.
In 1993 it established a professional team, called Dalian
Wanda Football Club, but the company sold up in 2000 out of
disappointment at the development of Chinese football.
Chinese football has lurched from crisis to crisis in recent
years and disaffected fans have turned away from the game amid
corruption scandals, match-fixing and violence on and off the
In 2009, Vice President Xi Jinping said during a visit to
Germany that he liked soccer very much and hoped the game could
develop better in China, prompting renewed government interest
in the game.
"Over the last two years, national leaders have paid a great
deal of attention to the development of football in China, and
measures to reshape the game have achieved visible results,"
Dalian Wanda's Wang was cited as saying by Xinhua.
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