BEIJING: Gianni Infantino met the President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping today in Beijing. The FIFA President was received by President Xi at the Great Hall of the People, in China’s capital city.
In this one-hour meeting, President Xi spoke highly of the social and educational values of football, and expounded the vision and missions of football development in the most populous country of the world.
Talks centred on the growing popularity of football in China and the Chinese government’s commitment to improving access to the game across the country. President Xi spoke to Gianni Infantino at length about China’s blueprint for football, which includes plans to make the game accessible to over 30 million primary and secondary school children by 2020, as well as creating up to 20,000 football schools and laying 70,000 pitches. The Chinese government’s target is to ensure that there will be one football pitch for every 10,000 people by 2030.
The FIFA President thanked President Xi for his commitment to expanding participation in football throughout China, and highlighted the important role football plays in breaking down cultural and social barriers, making it a game accessible to everyone. He also complimented the Chinese Football Association for their ambitious strategic plan and underlined FIFA’s willingness to support their efforts through a closer cooperation.
In addition the Chinese President expressed his hope, and the dream of many Chinese people, that the country would have the opportunity to host a FIFA Men’s World Cup at some stage in the future.
Speaking after the meeting the FIFA President said: “I was very honoured to meet with President Xi today and we shared many opinions and ideas about the development of football, not only in China, but throughout the world. Today marks the kick-off of a new and closer cooperation between China and FIFA for the future of football. China will play an important role in improving access to the game and we are grateful to President Xi for his support in this matter. We look forward to many future projects together.”