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How China Make Football Become Serious Tantalize Business

How China Make Football Become Serious Tantalize Business
China Super League players illustrated
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BEIJING - Booming wealth in China coupled with president Xi Jinping's love of the beautiful game, means money is being pumped into the country's Super League like never before. According to FIFA, China - a country of 1.3billion people - has just over 25,000 football players.

Veteran stars seeking an easy payday at the end of their careers is nothing new, of course. America was a lucrative stop-off for the likes of Pele, Beckenbauer, Best and Cruyff in the old NASL long before Major League Soccer came along to offer the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard a last hurrah.

Despite that being one of the highest numbers of players of any country in the world, the percentage of people playing the game is still tiny compared to some South American countries, where up to one in four citizens play the game.

The difference now, however, is that players in their prime are heading to China, lured by the astronomical figures on offer, rather than pursuing their football aspirations at a significantly higher level in Europe or South America.

Oscar is 25 and in the prime of his life. Fellow BrazilianTeixeira was 26 when he turned his back on the chance to join Liverpool at the start of this year and instead signed for Jiangsu Suning.

And Chinese football hasn't finished yet. Sportsmail revealed at the weekend that Zlatan Ibrahimovic has turned down an offer from China of more than £1m-a-week in favour of spending another year at Manchester United, no doubt aware that he will still be able to command equally jaw-dropping sums when he eventually leaves Old Trafford.

His United teammate Wayne Rooney was offered £75m over three years by Shanghai SIPG, while Manchester City's Yaya Toure turned down £577,000-a-week from Jiangsu Suning to stay in the Premier League for a little longer.
 
Some of the world's top managers have also joined the gold rush.

While the likes of Hulk and Ramires are appearing on the field, some of football's most respected managers are now prowling the touchlines in China.
How China Make Football Become Serious Tantalize Business
World Cup winning boss Luiz Felipe Scolari has been in charge of Guangzhou Evergrande since 2015. His team are currently champions. Manuel Pellegrini, formerly in charge of Manchester City in the Premier League, is the manager of Hebei China Fortune.

Former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson is in charge at second tier club Shenzhen, having previously worked for Shanghai SIPG, where former Tottenham coach Andre Villas-Boas is now at the helm. And Gustavo Poyet, once in charge of Sunderland in England and Real Betis in Spain, has recently joined the dugout at Shanghai Shenhua. Also former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson is in China.

How China Make Football Become Serious Tantalize Business
Below, how President Xi Jinping set his country a challenge of bringing home the World Cup in 15 years.

President Xi has set out a 10-year plan, running from 2015 to 2025, to double the size of the Chinese sports economy to more than £600billion, based on state and private investment in football. He wants to produce 100,000 players by ploughing money into grassroots football and creating 20,000 new 'football schools' and 70,000 pitches by 2020.

His plan is to turn China into a superpower in the sport, capable of qualifying for, hosting and then winning the World Cup. He said wants China to win the World Cup in the next 15 years.

No, China are currently 83rd in the FIFA rakings, between Antigua & Barbuda and the Faroe Islands. They have only appeared at a World Cup finals once before, going out at the group stage without scoring a single goal.
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