China going “crazy” to become superpower in football

first_imgFrom K J M VarmaBeijing, May 11 (PTI) Pushed by the burning ambition of President Xi Jinping to make China a superpower in football, the country is going “crazy” hiring top foreign players and coaches at whopping amounts to make a strong pitch for winning the world cup.China could win the World Cup within the next 20 years, said former England football manager Sven-Goran Eriksson who led UK from 2001 to 2006.Eriksson, 68, the currently head coach of leading Chinese Super League (CSL) team Shanghai SIPG, believes everything is now in place for China to succeed.”This season its gone crazy, totally crazy. The president of the country is pushing for football. And if the government push for something in China things will happen,” Eriksson told BBC.Driven by Xi, who has emerged as the most powerful leader in the country after Mao, China is investing billions of pounds to hire foreign coaches and players to create a football buzz in the country.While international players hardly looked at China in the past, currently 50 of the top players this year signed up for Chinese clubs with money totalling to 122 million pounds which eventually will enable CSL join the football super league.Thirteen of the 16 football coaches hired by the country to train millions of schools children are foreigners.According to the latest government plan to develop the sport, China will have more than 70,000 soccer fields by the end of 2020, in the country, state-run Global Times reported today.China hopes football will be played by over 50 million people by 2020.advertisementThe report said the growth in the CSL has seen some of the biggest names in world football sign for Chinese clubs in recent years.The top stars who joined CSL include Brazil international Ramires who joined Jiangsu Suning from Chelsea for 25 million pounds, while Argentinas Ezequiel Lavezzi left Paris St-Germain for Hebei China Fortune for a reported fee of 23.5 millin pounds.”Its going crazy right now. We have a saying that the only two players who are not coming to China right now are Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi,” said Romain Woo, the founder of Van Hao sports agency.”The other names? Its all highly possible. I know most of the big agents in Europe and they are all trying to push their clients to China right now if theyre not having a good time in Europe,” he said.(MORE) PTI KJV AMS AKJ AMSlast_img read more