Home\Xi's Visit

Leaders cheer nations' goal of promoting soccer success

By Fu Jing in Berlin | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-07-08 00:15

The presence of President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a soccer match featuring young players from both countries will show the leaders' commitment to strengthening their partnership around the sport, said a senior German soccer official.

"The match that President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are planning to attend is part of a football camp that both sides have organized in Berlin," said Friedrich

Curtius, secretary-general of the German Football Association.

Xi is making his second state visit to Germany. His first was in 2014. He is set to watch the soccer match and also inaugurate a new panda garden at the zoo in Berlin before heading on to Hamburg, where he will attend the G20 summit.

Curtius said both nations are treating the soccer camp as a great example of cooperation that can be found in talent promotion and the education of coaches.

"The interest shown by Xi Jinping and Angela Merkel proves that both governments stand behind the two football associations," Curtius said. "We are very glad to receive such encouragement, which serves as motivation for us to continue working hard to achieve the cooperation project's goals."

With the support of Xi and Merkel, both keen soccer fans, China and Germany entered into a soccer partnership last year.

"Putting our signatures under the partnership agreement last November was a great moment," Curtius said. "Against this background, we feel the agreement is of eminent value for all parties concerned. We've worked hard to define the legal and contractual aspects, and we are going to work just as hard to fill the project with life."

He said his association is highly motivated to work with Chinese partners, with the support of a number of sponsors.

Volker Heun, founder and CEO of the Dusseldorf-based company Invest in Football, said the partnership between China and Germany shows the closeness of the bilateral relationship.

"Under the national framework of cooperation, I believe many new opportunities will occur," said Heun, who wrote a book about China's soccer industry.

Heun said he believes that the training of young Chinese players will be crucial to national success.

"We must try to explore opportunities by training boys aged 7 or 8," said Heun.

He and his business partners have launched the Sino-German Football Academy for Youth Players.

"We are in the process of selecting our Chinese investors," said Heun.

He explained that the academy will target boys from second-tier leagues, soccer schools, and second- or third-tier cities in China.

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