China / Society

Obstacles to soccer growth falling away

By Qiu Quanlin in Guangzhou (China Daily) Updated: 2015-09-02 07:41

Following a recent move by China's top sports body to give up its authority over the Chinese Football Association, a local sports authority in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, said it will mirror that action and cut its own ties to the local football association.

The Guangzhou Football Association will become a full-fledged nongovernmental organization, with independent administration and internal control of structure, finance, salaries and personnel, according to Xu Jianping, deputy director of the Guangzhou Sports Bureau.

Guangzhou's reshuffling of its sports administration is the first of its kind at a regional level to follow the top sports authority's move to delink itself with the soccer association.

China's decadelong system of managing soccer associations at all levels through government officials has been blamed as a major obstacle in the country's overall soccer development.

"Now we are cutting our ties with the association through a personnel reshuffle that will see government officials and staff workers withdraw from management," Xu said.

According to Xu, the first practical step is to hold a membership meeting and select new chairpersons for the association.

"Moreover, the association will have its own say on more aspects, making it an NGO with independent operations and financial systems," Xu said, adding that the local football association will be in charge of promotion, talent development and organization of nongovernmental soccer leagues.

"The government-owned soccer administrative center will no longer exist. We believe that delinking the association from the sports authority will help push the development of local soccer," Xu said.

As part of the Chinese Dream envisioned by President Xi Jinping, the country has announced an overall soccer reform plan to boost development of the sport, aiming to catch up with big international programs and players in the near future.

Wang Jun, secretary-general of the Folk Football Promotion Association of Guangdong province, a nongovernmental organization established three years ago, said delinking the semi-administrative football association from the local sports authority will result in better promotion of amateur soccer development in communities and schools.

"It is of great importance," Wang said, "as amateur soccer will help push forward overall soccer development in the province."

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