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China to have more than 70,000 soccer pitches by 2020

Updated: May 11,2016 7:49 AM     Xinhua

Beijing — China vows to have more than 70,000 soccer pitches by the year of 2020 as the country is aiming to become a soccer power in future, the government said on May 10.

One year ago the country unveiled the Overall Plan of Chinese Soccer Reform and Development. Aiming to revive the Chinese soccer, the reform plan covers almost every aspect of the sport.

The latest initiative of the ambitious project, released by the powerful planning body - the National Development and Reform Commission - in conjunction with the sports and education ministries, is to increase the number of soccer pitches.

At the end of 2013, China had about 10,000 pitches in “quite good” condition, and there are also about 40,000 in schools and universities, which will be renovated in future, the plan said.

It added that another 20,000 would be built for society.

Pitches at schools and companies will be open to people of the community to use, either free or at much lower cost, and two new national training centers will be built, the plan said.

Professional soccer clubs will also be encouraged to open up their facilities to the communities.

The government would provide funding to help build the pitches while private capital would also be encouraged, it added.

The National Development and Reform Commission has earlier released a plan which focused on the level of the national team. The bold plan said a foundation for the sport is going to be laid by 2020.

In the second phase which is between 2021 and 2030, China hopes soccer will grow into a sport with firm foundation and becomes “an important engine of the sports industry” while the national men’s team stand out in Asia and women’s team return to the leading powers in the world.

In the third phase that spans the next 20 years, the most populous country will “go all out to realize the goals of being the top class soccer nation and all-around development of Chinese soccer.”