China subsidizes construction of soccer fields

By Wang Qi Source:Global Times Published: 2019/7/31 23:03:40

Students at a primary school in Yiyuan county, East China's Shandong Province on Monday practice headers during a soccer summer camp. Photo: VCG

China's top economic planner unveiled a plan to increase the number of soccer pitches, offering a subsidy of two million yuan each ($290,600). 

A plan released by China's National Development and Reform Commission (CDRC) said it would subsidize the construction of soccer pitches of 11-a-side, five-a-side and seven-a-side, the commission said on Tuesday. 

The full pitch will receive a subsidy of two million yuan, and others can get up to a one million yuan subsidy, according to the document. 

The program is scheduled to be completed by the end of next year, CDRC said.

CDRC is also encouraging local governments to subsidize the construction through sports lottery welfare funds and other methods, the report said. 

The plan said more people have shown interest in the sport, and that the development of the sport would significantly boost the country's pride and cohesive force. 

China's soccer fields and facilities lag behind those in top soccer countries. 

Insiders hailed the move as they believe it will benefit the industry and encourage more children to get engaged in the sport, Zhang Lu, a senior Chinese soccer commentator, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

However, Zhang expressed concerns over the location, cost and maintenance of the pitches. 

He stressed that amateur players only use the soccer grounds on weekends and holidays, which may waste the pitches.

He urged the use of abandoned and unoccupied land.

Zhang also suggested building smaller pitches, which are recommended by FIFA, as the smaller pitch is more flexible and could enhance participation and usage.   

In 2016, China's Ministry of Education released a document on development plan for soccer from 2016 to 2050. The document said that by the end of next year, China hopes to establish 20,000 schools featuring soccer.


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