Rowan Simons
Rowan Simons

Developer Reeze Fan of SoccerWorld tries to capitalize on president Xi Jinping´s dream to change China into a soccer nation by building recreational soccer complexes. But despite prominent support, Fan faces an uphill battle, warns soccer expert Rowan Simons in Bloomberg.


SoccerWorld contracts with local governments and the occasional shopping mall to replace old, poorly maintained municipal fields with the kind of recreational soccer complexes that are ubiquitous in the U.K., with locker rooms, concession stands and synthetic fields big enough for 7-a-side.

Fan says SoccerWorld will double the number of centers it operates to 60 by the end of next year, and spend 500 million yuan ($74.8 million) by 2022 to increase that number to more than 150. Even with Xi’s support, he has an uphill climb, says Rowan Simons, the founder of amateur soccer club ChinaFootball FC, which trains 3,000 children.

“Nobody plays at the levels and frequencies required to support dedicated centers,” he said. “It will be at least a generation before such services will be required on a mass level.”

More in Bloomberg.

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