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Barcelona FC to become the first foreign club to invest in China

By Zhang Haizhou in Beijing and Deng Yanzi in Hong Kong | | Updated: 2017-03-13 10:21

FC Barcelona may invest up to "tens of millions of dollars" into a new training and experience centre in the island province of Hainan, making it the first foreign club to make a major direct capital investment into China’s booming football market.

The unprecedented project shows the Spanish La Liga side's long term commitment to China. It is also first of its kind in Barcelona's 118 years history.

It would be a joint-venture with Mission Hills Group, known for its world-class golf resorts.

Calling the project a "partnership between the strong", chief executive officer of MHG Ken Chu confirmed each side would contribute half the cost.

"It is a joint investment between our two companies," Chu, who is also a member of China's top political advisory body, told China Daily in Beijing.

China's soccer market has boomed in recent years and is now the biggest in Asia, Xu Jiayin, controller of Chinese Super League champion Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao FC, said last week.

The soccer industry is reported to have employed 500,000 to 600,000 people.

China's national men's team currently ranks only 86th in the world.

The central government plans to have 50,000 soccer-focused schools by 2025. The country has also set a goal of 50 million people playing soccer on a daily basis by 2020.

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