Shandong authorities deny suspending basketball, volleyball leagues to develop soccer

By Yuen Yeuk-laam Source:Global Times Published: 2015-3-20 0:18:01

Shandong authorities deny suspending basketball leagues

The education authority of Shandong Province clarified on Thursday that it will not suspend university basketball and volleyball leagues to develop soccer, saying the media had misinterpreted one of its plans.

Beginning Tuesday, many media outlets cited a statement released by the Shandong Provincial Education Department saying it would suspend university basketball and volleyball leagues this year while including college soccer in on-campus tournaments.

A three-year action plan which aims to promote soccer in schools, with a focus on soccer training and organization of matches, will also be carried out.

The plan was seen as a move to support the central government's soccer reform plan, which was passed last month.

The department, however, had deleted the statement from its official website as of Thursday, following heated debate over the decision. Many criticized the authority as being ridiculous and over-enthusiastic in support of the central government's plan.

In response, the department released a statement on Thursday stressing that media had misinterpreted the news.

"We are not going to suspend college basketball and volleyball leagues. The provincial education department and sports management bureau are still discussing whether to combine the two separate college basketball and volleyball leagues," a spokesperson at the Shandong provincial education department told the Global Times Thursday.

"Colleges will continue to have basketball and volleyball leagues and normal sports training," he said, adding that a guideline will be issued soon to finalize details.

"I am not worried that the soccer reform plan would affect the development of basketball, as the Chinese team is globally competitive. It will take at least 10 years to see substantial improvement in soccer," Wang Peng, a basketball trainer at Beijing Sport University told the Global Times, adding that the reform will guide and encourage citizens to play soccer but will not really have a serious impact on other sports.

"Revitalizing soccer is a must for building China into a sports powerhouse and also the earnest hope of the people," reads the central soccer reform plan, put together by a group chaired by President Xi Jinping.

Newspaper headline: Shandong authorities deny suspending basketball leagues

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