China has plans to open 50,000 football schools by 2025, starting with a Ronaldinho-coached academy modeled after Barcelona’s famous La Masia. This project is part of President Xi Jinping’s personal quest to transform Chinese football, one whose national side currently ranks 86th in FIFA’s world rankings, into a competitive team capable of hoisting the World Cup.
Using the home of FC Barcelona as a template, China’s new $8.5 million USD boarding school on the tropical island of Hainan in the South China Sea will feature seven pitches and houses 1,000 children aged 6 to 18. Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu said of the partnership, “More and more European players have come to play in the Chinese Super League, but by improving youth training, hopefully we can have more homegrown talent playing in the Super League and even European leagues.”
- The Guardian