Published on 5th April 2017 by

China is executing a masterplan to dominate world football, pumping billions of dollars into buying up foreign players, coaches and entire European clubs, and grooming new generations of its own young stars. Subscribe to Journeyman here:

China is the world’s rising superpower, but in soccer it’s a pushover; in the race for the World Cup, it’s a perennial dud. But all that may be about to change. “China has just exploded out of nowhere” says Trent Sainsbury, an Australian playing for Jiangsu Suning FC. Sainsbury’s club is owned by an electronics group which has splashed nearly $100 million on imported players in the past two years. It also spent $380 million buying Italian superclub Inter Milan. Other Chinese clubs spend even more.

After decades of neglect, money is also starting to flow at a grass-roots level. In the backwater town of Zhidan, coach Ding Changbao has pioneered a highly successful youth program. “A lot of Chinese people are now flocking to football because they want their children to become stars”, says Ding. Among his charges is rising star Gao Baosen, aged 12. He and his family struggle to get by, but he has big dreams. “My dream is to be like Ronaldo, to be a professional player like him.” Baosen and coach Ding are just small pieces of the Government’s plan to have 50 million players and 50,000 coaching schools by 2025 – and, by 2050, to sit atop the football world.

For similar stories, see:
Should Qatar Be Stripped Of The World Cup?

The North Korean Football Star Born and Raised in Japan (2010)

Inshallah Beijing – Full Documentary

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