Locals play soccer at a training center in Qian’an, North China’s Hebei province, April 11, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

BEIJING – China plans to build between 16 and 18 so-called football cities between 2021 and 2025, according to a document published by the country’s State General Administration of Sport on Friday.

By 2025, the football cities should contain at least two professional clubs, one national-level youth training center and a batch of local training centers. Half of the students in the cities should be engaged in the sport, while there should be at least one football pitch for every 10,000 people, read the document.

China’s State General Administration of Sport and the Chinese Football Association will provide 5-10 million yuan ($0.78-1.56 million) per city every year to support the development of football. Each city’s government should invest at least 30 million yuan in football every year if it want to join the program.

The document added that football cities will be assigned tasks on strengthening local football associations, optimizing the professional clubs’ equity structure, improving competition system, develeoping grassroots football, introducing high-level football experts, building football facilities and cultivating football culture.

With the development of the football cities, the document adds that football will play a key role in China’s objective of becoming a strong sporting nation by 2035.