AFC to support Chinese football

Chinese football is looking forward to rapid improvement after the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) officially launched its development programme - Vision Asia - during the opening ceremony of the Vision Asia Conference China on Monday.

The programme is a tool to assist each AFC national association to build its "Football House," which was put forward by Sepp Blatter, the president of the sport's world governing body FIFA, several years ago.

China has been selected as the first trial country for the programme, with the other seven experimental countries and regions being Hong Kong, Indonesia, Viet Nam, India, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

According to Xue Li from the Chinese Football Association (CFA), the nation has set an objective during Vision China 2003-12 to reach the highest standard in Asia in all aspects, including breaking through into the quarter-final during the men's competition of the 2008 Olympics.

Xue also indicated China's ambition to bid for the men's World Cup but gave no specific timetable.

Urs Zanitti, director of FIFA's Goal Project, revealed that the Goal Project for China was approved by FIFA two weeks ago in Doha.

The project includes investing in China to build new headquarters for the CFA.

"But it is more than just building a new headquarters," Zanitti said. "It is a window of opportunity to change the management of China's football."

According to the master of ceremonies, CFA Secretary-General Yan Shiduo, the location of the new headquarters will be in southern Beijing.

"It is not only a base for CFA but also for China's football family," said Yan.

AFC Secretary-General Peter Velappan said the Vision Asia programme covers the 11 elements of the national associations, marketing development, grassroot foundation or youth development, coach and referee education, sports medicine, men's and women's competitions, futsal, media and communication, and the fans.

"Vision China, that is the project in China, the first pilot country, will accumulate learning experience for Vision Asia in other countries," said Velappan, who is also the Vision Asia project director.

Velappan said Vision Asia in China will include assessments on Chinese football, setting goals, planning activities and implementing and monitoring them.

"At present, it is a 10-year plan, during which China wants to become a superpower in Asian football and rank in the top 20 in the world," he said. "But it should be a continuous process that lasts into the future."

The Vision Asia Conference China runs until Saturday.

People's Daily Online ---