Source: China State Council Information Office
China plans to achieve full coverage of football facilities in all urban communities nationwide by 2035, according to a document issued by the country’s Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and the State General Administration of Sport.
The document also requires that all the newly-built or under construction communities in China should have at least one non-standard football field by 2025. By 2035, standard football pitches will be built in urban communities where conditions allow.
The Chinese government launched a football construction pilot project in nine cities, including Wuhan and Shenzhen, in April, 2019.
“By now, 66 standard football pitches and 713 non-standard pitches have been built in urban communities in these nine cities through utilizing free spaces such as river banks, beaches, and public parks,” Huang Yan, vice-minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, said on Tuesday.
Promoting the construction of football pitches is an important effort for China to achieve football reform and encourage more people to participate in sporting activities, read the document.
“The key to the development of Chinese football is to find an effective solution to prioritize the expansion of the football population, and step up efforts to enhance public participation,” Zhang Lu, a well-known football commentator in China, once expressed.
The lack of football population and professional football venues has plagued Chinese football development for a long time.
According to data released by the State General Administration of Sport in China in November, there were 105,300 football pitches covering an area of 295 million square meters by the end of 2019. Among ball sports, the number of football pitches is only higher than that of volleyball courts (87,700) and is far behind basketball courts (974,800).
According to the document, new residential projects should strictly implement supporting construction standards and regulations to ensure that community football pitches with facilities are synchronously planned, constructed, and delivered together with residential buildings.
Once football pitches are built, the maintenance and operation in the later period is another issue.
The document also provides relevant guidelines. “It is encouraged to explore diversified funding mechanisms and government-enterprise synergy. The local government should attract social capital to construct and operate community football pitches with facilities in various forms such as public construction and private operation as well as private ownership with public subsidies.”
“Multiple channels such as financial subsidies, sports lottery, general welfare funds, and development finance will increase the capital input in community football pitch construction.”
The document also clarifies that football pitches should mainly be operated for public welfare.
“The ‘new era of Chinese football’ will see stricter spending restrictions for clubs, with home-grown players replacing expensive international stars, and a boom in soccer stadium construction,” Liu Yi, the secretary-general of the Chinese Football Association, said in a recent interview.