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Players urged to find common touch

China Daily | Updated: 2018-02-13 15:24

Chinese Football Association president Cai Zhenhua has called on more soccer stars to follow the altruistic example of Tianjin Quanjian captain Zhang Lu.

The goalkeeper is giving back to the grassroots game by coaching kids for free, and Cai reckons the game benefits from such charity on many levels.

In recent years, Chinese soccer has been tainted by the national team's struggles on the pitch and scandals off it, so Zhang's generosity offers a rare example of players connecting with everyday people in a positive way.

"I am glad to see that Zhang Lu is doing charity work. A giving soul is certainly helpful for Chinese soccer," said Cai.

"Sports stars are at the same time role models. A soccer star is no exception. They should know many young people are watching their matches and their words, and learning from them."

As well as Zhang, Cai cited the example of Cristiano Ronaldo as a player who fits this profile. The Portuguese and Real Madrid superstar was named the world's most charitable sports star in 2015 for his efforts in giving back to communities.

However, Cai believes soccer still suffers from a lack of such figures and could do well to follow the example of NBA basketball players.

"We all know that the NBA is popular around the world. One of the reasons for its popularity arises from charity. The NBA has a social responsibility program called NBA Cares, which continues the league's tradition of giving back to the community," he said.

"A soccer star who shows his commitment to society will set a good example for young people, attract investment in soccer at a grassroots level, and drive more to play the game."


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