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More cities designated for soccer development

By Qiu Quanlin | | Updated: 2022-09-15 17:47
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Students at a soccer school in Meizhou, Guangdong province [Photos by Qiu Quanlin/For]

A second group of key cities for soccer development in the country has been designated for the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25) by the General Administration of Sport, China's top sport authority.

The cities include Beijing; Suzhou, Jiangsu province; Hangzhou, Zhejiang province; Xi'an, Shaanxi province; Yanbian Korean autonomous prefecture in Jilin province; and Meizhou, Guangdong province.

According to a notice issued by the administration on Wednesday, cities designated for soccer development should establish sound mechanisms and ensure the availability of capital and land.

Early in January, nine cities — Shanghai; Chengdu, Sichuan province; Wuhan, Hubei province; Guangzhou and Shenzhen, Guangdong province; Changchun, Jilin province; Chongqing; Dalian, Liaoning province; and Qingdao, Shandong province, were named as the first key cities for soccer development.

Selection of the key cities started in May last year after the issuance in 2015 of a comprehensive soccer reform and development plan.

Under the plan, China will designate 16 to 18 key soccer development cities during the 14th Five-Year Plan period.

Key cities usually have a long soccer history and a large population of players. For example, Meizhou, home to the Chinese Super League Club Meizhou Hakka Football, has long been one of China's major soccer bases and developed dozens of international players, including Li Huitang, known as China's "King of Soccer" in the early 20th century, and former Chinese national soccer team head coach Zeng Xuelin.

The number of people involved in soccer in Meizhou, which has 1,027 soccer fields, accounts for 28.3 percent of the city's total population, according to Meizhou Daily newspaper.

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