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AFC General Secretary gives all thumbs up to China football boom

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-07-19 09:47

AFC General Secretary gives all thumbs up to China football boom

Children sit on the playground and have a rest after a football competition in Xiaogan city, Central China's Hubei province, July 8, 2017. [Photo/VCG]

BEIJING - Asian Football Confederation (AFC) General Secretary Dato' Windsor John on Tuesday hailed China's football boom as benchmark for the continent, saying that it's a positive image for Asia football.

"China's football boom is good news for AFC when clubs in China are doing well because China is a very important partner for us," said Dato' Windsor, who is paying his first visit to China since taking helm as the AFC General Secretary in 2015.

"We look at the growth in the attendance and growth in the popularity of the Chinese Super League, and it's a very posivite image for Asia football. The performance of the Chinese Super League (CSL) clubs also becomes benchmark for other clubs in Asia," he added.

But Dato' Windsor warned that the lack of balance between foreign players and domestic players might hurt CSL league.

"On one hand, we need to improve the performance of the national team, so you need more home grown players, more Chinese players who play in top clubs regularly and they can be prepared for the national team. On the other hand, the clubs want to do well in the league and become the champion, not only domestically but also champion in Asia. So it's a difficult situation," Dato' Windsor remarked.

He added: "We must promote the league and ensure the clubs are well structured and well organised, and at the same time the clubs are investing in youth development and grassroots so that we have more local players come out. It's not easy. We need to take into consideration the balance of having the top players play in China and not forgetting the responsibility to develop local players because they will go to represent the national team."

Dato' Windsor said the expansion of the World Cup will grow the game in Asia.

"It means AFC has 8.5 slots for the 2026 World Cup, so that means more countries and regions have opportunities to reach the World Cup, and also more countries and regions can now dream that they can reach the World Cup. This naturally give us an opportunity for more members to start working hard from now in youth development and coaches education because they have a real opportunity to go to the World Cup."

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