Wed, Aug 19, 2015 - Page 19 News List

China to remove hand of government from soccer


China is to remove a hand of government from the nation’s soccer body and is to end its state funding, the English-language China Daily reported yesterday, a major step in a plan to overhaul the corruption-tainted sport and raise playing standards.

China’s General Administration of Sport on Monday announced that it was removing its grip on the Chinese Football Association (CFA) by reshuffling government officials out and turning the body into a “full-fledged” non-governmental organization, the China Daily reported.

Officials from the administration currently run the CFA.

The move is part of a soccer reform plan issued by China’s State Council in March and backed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is said to be a soccer fan and is pushing for the nation to one day host the FIFA World Cup.

Despite enjoying widespread popularity in China, the sport has been riddled with scandal and ridiculed as a source of national shame. The men’s national team is ranked 79th by world soccer’s governing body FIFA.

“Reshuffling CFA management is a priority to carry on overall soccer reform, which will see the game’s management run independently without interference from administrative powers,” CFA president and administration deputy director Cai Zhenhua said, according to the newspaper.

Government officials involved in the CFA, including Cai, would have to choose either to work for the body full time or withdraw from it, he added.

According to a revised CFA constitution, the new leadership is to be elected at its 47-member congress at the end of the year, when the association’s new organizational structure would be established, the newspaper said.

The association would stop receiving government funding and “stand on its own feet, financially, through independent marketing initiatives,” while making public its financial records and submitting to annual third-party audits, it said.

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