China held a seminar on Sunday to mark the first anniversary of a reform to raise the standard of Chinese soccer.
Cai Zhenhua, head of the Chinese Football Association (CFA), outlined progress made over exactly one year after a top-level team on deepening China’s reforms, led by President Xi Jinping, approved plans to reform the sport.
The achievements included the separation of CFA from China’s State General Administration of Sport and rapid development in school soccer and soccer industry, said Cai.
China last week abolished the government’s soccer management body – the Chinese Football Administrative Center, one of 21 state sports departments, giving CFA more latitude in making decisions in personnel management, pay rate setting, marketing and selection of national team coaches.
Despite huge resources invested in the game, the Chinese men’s team is on the verge of elimination from the 2018 World Cup.
China, third in its qualifying group for Russia in 2018, faces the Maldives at home on March 24 and Qatar on March 29. In front of it are Qatar and Hong Kong, against which it has only managed two draws.
“We will take on the last two qualifying games with utmost resolve and confidence,” said Cai, who added the performance of the national team wasn’t the only benchmark for soccer development.