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Soccer teamwork aims at realizing long-term goals

By AN BAIJIE in Berlin | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-07-07 23:55

China wants to enhance soccer exchanges and cooperation with Germany in order to raise its game on the world stage, President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday.

Xi made the remarks in Berlin while watching a friendly match between young players from both countries.

Accompanied by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Xi, who is on a state visit to Germany, toured an exhibition of photos at the Olympic stadium before watching the match.

He told young soccer players involved in the match that they are part of the future of both nations' soccer aspirations, and the sporting friendship between the countries.

The president encouraged the young players to uphold the spirit of teamwork while exchanging soccer skills and making good friends.

In November, China and Germany signed a five-year agreement to boost soccer cooperation, after talks between Xi and Merkel, who are both big fans of the game.

"The aim is to support the development of Chinese football through measures, including the training of players, coaches and referees, as well as through an exchange of expertise in the organization of a league," said the German Football Federation in a statement about the agreement.

In 2016, the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic regulator, announced the country's aim to become a world soccer superpower by 2050.

In March, the Chinese Football Association unveiled short-term goals, including raising China's world ranking to 70th, cultivating 1 million young players, introducing soccer training at 20,000 schools, and building 60,000 new pitches by 2020.

In March 2014, accompanied by his wife, Peng Liyuan, Xi visited Berlin's Olympic stadium and spoke with young soccer players from Zhidan county, in China's Shaanxi province, who were receiving joint training with young players from Wolfsburg Football Club.

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