THE GREAT BALL OF CHINA


The Chinese are fed up being kicked around by the rest of the World's soccer nations, and are embarking on an ambitious plan to ensure Chinese world dominance in the sport by 2050. 

The plan, unveiled by Wang Dengfeng Vice President of China's football association, includes plans to set up 20,000 soccer academies by 2020, rising to 50,000 by 2025, and leading to China winning the World Cup by 2050.

Each of the 50,000 schools would be able to train 1,000 young players, creating a pool of 50 million competent players from which to choose the Chinese national team. The plan also involves the creation of an additional 70,000 soccer fields for younger players.

"This is a solid way to select football talent for our future reserves. Improving Chinese football is no longer just a dream," Wang said in the ruling Communist Party's propaganda mouthpiece The People's Daily.

Like other athletically limited East Asian peoples, the Chinese have shown little ability in soccer and are at number 86 in the FIFA rankings, even behind tiny White countries like the Faroe Islands (population 50,000). The highest ranking Oriental nation is South Korea at number 39. China has only qualified for one World Cup (2002), where they lost every game.

President Xi Jinping's has made a strong soccer team a national priority. Last year Brazil's World Cup-winning manager Marcello Lippi was hired to take over the national men's team.

While hiring needed foreign expertise, the Chinese are also taking care to limit the number of foreign players in top Chinese club teams, reducing the number from four to three.

This is an example of sports nationalism, designed to instill strong national pride and "train" a physically fit male populace. But it may also be a Chinese example of "bread and circuses," aimed at distracting the energies of young men from political activism, and thus a method of ensuring the grip of the Chinese Communist Party on power.

Whether this sporting "Great Leap Forward" can succeed remains to be seen. The last "Great Leap Forward" attempted by the Chinese Communist Party between 1958 and 1962, aimed to modernize industry and agriculture, and was a noted failure, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 45,000,000 people. Interestingly that is almost the same number as the projected number of football players the Chinese government is intending to create.
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