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Read Chinese Football’s 50-point reform plan in full – exclusive translation

Last year saw the release of a comprehensive football reform plan from the Chinese government which gained widespread international attention and brought much discussion of the links between the sport and politics in China. The plan accurately identifies many of the key issues affecting the game in the country, but it will be years before any measure of its effectiveness can be taken. For the first time on the English internet, a proper translation is now available. Read on to enter the Chinese football rabbit hole…


The General Office of the State Council publishes the ‘Chinese football reform and development program’.

To: All people’s governments of provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities, all departments under the State Council and all subordinate institutions:

The Central Committee and the State Council have agreed the ‘Chinese football reform and development program’ and is requesting its implementation.

‘Chinese football reform and development program’

Since Comrade Xi Jinping become general secretary in the 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), he has placed the development of football on the agenda in order to build China as a great sports nation. General Secretary Xi Jinping has on several occasions pointed out that the Chinese football industry has to be developed. In addition, Premier Li Keqiang has attached great importance to those who work in the football and other sports industries. The State Council has conducted several studies. The reform and development of football is an unprecedented opportunity.

Football has a great social impact and is loved by the great masses.

The development and revitalization of football will improve the physical condition of the Chinese people, enrich cultural life, promote the spirit of patriotism and collectivism, cultivate sports culture, and develop the sports industry. This has a great significance for the realization of the dream of becoming a powerful sports nation, and great importance for the development of the economy, society and culture. Chinese football has already achieved good results in Asia. In the 1990s, the professionalization of football begun.

Previous reforms were effective to some extent, but the insufficient appreciation of football, ignorance about the rules and the eagerness for quick success led to negative results. The organization and management system was underdeveloped. Furthermore, the shortage of staff and supervision deficits led to the weakness of the social foundation for the development of football. Development and competitiveness of the industry has been disturbed and sporting success has declined.

After 2009 an administrative restructuring was carried out  to combat illegal gambling and corruption. Development initiatives like Campus Football were carried out. Football had since been on a positive trend and expects a new peak. In comparison to the rapid development of world football, and Asian football, our football is lagging behind in all aspects. The revitalization of football is an indispensable prerequisite for the construction of a powerful sports nation. Football is a beacon of hope for the masses.

Due to the deficiencies of sports management, reforms should be promoted and football should be revitalized. This football reform was introduced in the second, third and fourth plenum of the 18th Central Committee to meet the new expectations of the people, to improve the image of Chinese sports and to realize the dream of becoming a strong sports nation. The following plan was elaborated to implement the decisions of the Central Committee and State Council.

General Requirements

Guiding ideology

The theories of Deng Xiaoping, the principle of “The three Represents” and scientific development concepts are intended as a guideline. The ideas of the second, third and fourth plenary session of the 18th Central Committee should be fully implemented. The speeches by Xi Jinping should serve as a basis for the implementation of reforms. The development of the football reform is an important measure to build up a powerful sports nation. The problem-oriented institutional reform and innovation has to ensure the systematic development of football in order to raise the level of Chinese football. The development of a sports spirit and team building is very important. For an effective institutional mechanism a democratic opening and a sound legal system is necessary.

Fundamental principles

-The combination of domestic conditions and international experiences will provide a decent development pathway for Chinese football. In order to realize the full social value and function of football, it is necessary to start from the actual situation in China and to learn from the experiences of developed football countries to achieve a new way of reform and development of football with Chinese characteristics.

– A combination of long-term planning and a solid foundation. Strengthening top-level planning. Focusing on the implementation of the strategy. Promoting the development of football through the participation of the population and developing facilities, management and culture.

– A combination of innovative reconstruction and management of problems. Emancipation of spirit and mind. Transformation of concept. Optimize the combination of key elements. Create an innovation and development platform. Respect law. Handle the relations of present and future-oriented action, of specific and general aspects and of spreading and efficiency. Strengthen the scientific governance and solve development problems.

– A combination of a national system and market mechanism. Using the superiority of the socialist system. Joining forces to integrate resources. Fully make use of the market mechanism. Inspire vitality. The creation of a fair and honest environment in order to promote the protection of equal competition.

– A combination of football development and the improvement of the physical health of the entire nation. The promotion of football will improve the athleticism of the masses.
The main objective. Embedding the development of football in economic and social development planning. The implementation of the “three-step-strategy”.

-Short-term goal: Improving the environment and atmosphere for the development of football. The optimization of the football management system. Designing a medium- and long-term development plan. The creation of a football management model with Chinese characteristics. Create a structure that develops the football industry and professional football together.

-Mid-term goal: A significant increase in youth football. The League organization and the level of competition have to become the best in Asia. The men’s football team should be the best in Asia. The women’s football should return to be among the top teams in the world.

– Long-term goal: The realization of the comprehensive development of Chinese football. Chinese football will become a sport that is universally participated in by the masses. In the whole society a healthy football culture will be established. The league organization and the level of competition will enter the global forefront. An active bid to host the men’s World Cup. Increase significantly the international competitiveness of the men’s national team to reach globally the highest ranks.

Adaptation of the Chinese Football Association to the reforms

A clear positioning and function. The Chinese Football Association is for the public good and is broadly representative and professional. It is the authority in charge of national football. It is the only legitimate organization that represents our nation internationally. It is mainly responsible for the performance of football, for the dissemination of football, for the promotion of football talent, for the formulation of industry standards, for the development of a decent professional league system and for the formation of the national football team.

Reorganization of the Chinese Football Association. According to the separation of politics and society there must be clear responsibilities. The Chinese Football Association has to be built on to the principle of legal autonomy. The Chinese Football Association and General Administration of Sport should be independent from each other. Different organizational structures. The decoupling of the Chinese Football Association from the General Administration of Sport should include the reorganization of the internal structure, planning of work, financial and compensation management, human resource management, international professional exchanges and other aspects of the decision-making rights.

Optimization of the leadership institution. The Chinese Football Association has no administrative level. The leadership institution should embody a wide representation and professionalization. The Chinese Football Association should be represented by the sports administration department of the State Council, local football associations, industry representatives, representatives of the football league, famous footballers, representatives and experts from society and other fields.

Development of an internal management mechanism. Perfection of the internal governance structure of the Chinese Football Association. The regulation of power flow and working procedures. Establish policy making power, implementation power, monitoring power, reciprocal restriction power and coordination mechanism. Strengthen self-construction. Recruitment of talented staff. Football should contain sport management, economics and law. The abilities of the professional workforce will be improved through international technical exchanges. The quality of staff will be improved. Strengthen the self-discipline of the industry. Use strong measures to solve the existing problems of the football industry. Improve service awareness to overcome the negative trends in the administration. The Chinese Football Association should be operated as a mass organization. Financial disclosure. Accept audit and supervision.

Development of an association management system. The members of the Chinese Football Association should cover the regional football associations geographically and reflect the industry broadly. The regional football associations and industry should be part of the Chinese Football Association management system. Regional football associations and industries are responsible for their region, for example for building a membership organization of local industries, competition, training, public relation and other football activities. This should step by step be implemented in the whole country. Carry out a complete organization. Management of efficiency. Powerful cooperation. Adaptation to the modern football management system.

Strengthening the leadership of the party. Strengthening the football association as an organization mechanism of the party. Proceed in accordance with the principles of the party cadres and the personnel policy of the party. Strengthening the association ideology, the political work and the daily management of cadres. The Chinese Football Association is built as a party committee and the party organization is led by the General Administration of Sport leadership.

Improvement and reform of the structure and management model of professional football clubs

The promotion of healthy and stable development of football clubs. Limited access. Standardized management of professional football clubs. Recognize their important role and position in the professional league. Clubs should focus on their own structure. Improvement of rules and regulations. Strengthening of self-management. Compliance with the rules of the industry. Active commitment to social responsibility. Acceptance of social monitoring. Encourage local governments to create appropriate conditions. Those good clubs should lead to a stable basis of football.

The development of football strengthens the representation and the function as a role model of a city. Investors should be preventing from changing clubs and frequently re-locating clubs to other cities. This is one of the reasons that there is a lack of stable football clubs and general uncertainty. Cultivate actively a stable fan base and urban football culture.

Optimization of club ownership structure. Implementation of multiple investments by the government, enterprises and individuals. Encourage football clubs to invest in shares of football stadiums and other resources of the local governments. Form a rational structure of investment sources. Stimulate the realization of the club location. Stimulate the realization of the localization of football clubs. Encourage clubs to gradually drop company names from the club name. Optimize the corporate governance structure of football clubs. Accelerate the construction of a modern enterprise system. Long-term orientation. Systematic planning. Rigorously establish durable clubs.

Advancing the clubs to promote talented people. Set the standards for the introduction of talent in clubs and for salary management practices. Explore best practices for payroll accounting from clubs and players. Prevent the value of football players from being kept artificially high.

Disorderly competition and other problems. Investigate the quota for foreign players and other relevant decision-making mechanisms. Handle the relationship between foreign players and the development of local players. Strengthen the employment contracts of club management. The so-called “Yin Yang Contract” and other illegal activities such as the withholding of wages should be investigated and punished strictly. Adjust the regulation that clubs have to pay a processing fee in player transfers to reduce the burden of clubs.

Improving the football competition system and professional league system

Strengthen competition system. Optimize the structure of competition. Extend the scope of competition. Increase the types of competition. Gradually create a stable match system. Clear hierarchical assignments. Ordered connection. Enhance the competitive structure of urban and rural areas. With particular emphasis on professional league, create competition at regional level, competition at youth level, linked up with Campus Football, for the realization of a scientific competition structure. Gradually create a youth league system. Actively promote and organize industry in municipalities, businesses, military, and elderly, futsal, beach football and other sports.

Create a committee to regulate professional football. Set up an independent committee which is responsible for the organization and management of the professional league, and an appropriate structure for the Chinese Super League system, the second and third division. Starting from the basic political system the Chinese Football Association should examine clubs. Take discipline and arbitration actions. Decisions on major issues and other aspects are supervised by the Committee, where the representatives are delegated. The committee delegates representatives to the Chinese Football Association with whom they take part in decisions and discussions.

Optimization of the bonus system in competitions. Development is in accordance with the characteristics of football. Unlike other sports projects there are award criteria. Maintain competitive order. Adhere to fair competition. Build sportsmanship.

Competition organization and management department of sport should cooperate with the respective authorities of public security to strengthen management. Everyone should pursue their duties. Optimization of security measures. The police are responsible for the monitoring of security and order at football matches. The organization ensures the safety of the match venue and the surrounding area. Crack down on illegal and criminal activities. Promote the cultivation of fans. Compliance with discipline and law.

Strengthen the management of the industry. Ensure referees are impartial. Coaches and players must follow regulations and discipline. Strict precautionary measures. Strict action against violation of laws of the football industry. Improve disciplinary action. Industrial relief system and mechanism. The football management department, public security organs and other fields need to strengthen cooperation. Building a cooperative mechanism where illegal activities can be reported. Effective prevention. Early detection. Determined action against gangs of forgers and those indulging in other criminal activities.
Promote the exchange of international competitions. Promote the participation of Chinese football in international competitions to enhance international exchange and to raise the level. Promote work that is related to the application for the men’s FIFA World Cup.

The reform is designed to promote the development of campus football.

Bring the function of football coaches into play. Deepen reforms for school sports. All around development of talent cultivation. Campus Football should increase participation in football. Strengthen the basis of football talents. Improve the overall quality of students. Promoting the healthy growth of young people is the main project. Strengthening the advocacy of parents. Recognition and support of society. Encourage more young students to love and enjoy football. Make participation in football  an experience. Develop an effective method in order to adapt to social rules and ethical standards.

Promote the popularity of Campus Football. Football will be included on the physical education syllabus in all primary and secondary schools and the proportion of hours will be increased. Benefit from such support in order to advance special popularization. This is a good foundation.

Provide key support for particularly enthusiastic elementary and secondary schools. Throughout the country there are currently about 5,000 primary and secondary schools specialized in football. By 2020 this number is expected to reach 20,000, and by 2025 it will reach 50,000. Women’s football schools will thereby occupy a certain proportion.

Optimization of the insurance mechanism. Promote public procurement of services. Promote the safety of Campus Football to eliminate the concerns of students, parents and schools.

Promote a culture of learning and common development of football skills. Strengthen the management of talented students. Improvement of the examination and enrollment policy. Encourage students to actively participate in learning and training in football. Allow talented students to have access to higher education in order to create a good environment for development.
Promote the growth of young talents. Promote the establishment of school teams at all levels. Place emphasis on optimizing the normalization.

Horizontal and vertical connection of 4 football competition systems (college, high school, middle school and elementary school). Explore whether an assessment system can be included on the college football competition.

Train the trainer. The level of coaching will be improved through training of existing professionals, part-time football teachers, scouts and others. Promoting the introduction of foreign football coaches. The 50,000 schools that are specialized in football should emerge until the year 2020. Part-time football teachers should be trained in the first phase. Optimization of policy measures. Strengthening of professional training. This is a chance for retired professional footballers to obtain a new job as physical education teachers.

Develop the popularity of social football

Promote the popularity of football. Maintain that the way people are treated is the most important. Accelerate the promotion of the development of social football to expand the size of the football population. Encourage organizations, institutions, people’s organizations, military and business to join together or individually set up football teams and carry out a variety of social football activities. Lay stress on funding, venue, time, competition, coaching and other aspects to support the development of social football. Trade unions, the Communist Youth League, women’s organizations and other mass organizations should bring their superiority into play in order to promote the development of social football.
Promote social football and professional football together. Increase steadily the participation and raise the level in social football to have a solid foundation and talent base for the development of professional football. Promote and increase the popularity of social football by accelerating the development of professional football.

Improve the promotion of technical football staff as a development mode.

Expand channels and space to grow football players. Increase training efforts. Optimize the selection mechanism. Create multiple channels for elite football players. Strengthening Campus Football and the awareness of the promotion of football talent in social football. Broaden the horizons of professional football scouting. Advance Campus Football to develop excellent grassroots to provide a growth path from social football to professional football.

Construct a good combination between education and sport. Strengthening cultural education. Form willpower and promote personality to achieve an overall improvement in the development of football. Encourage football clubs, enterprises and other social forces to select professional football players and youth players to receive training in developed countries and strive to ensure that those are among the high-level professional leagues abroad.

Enhance professional football training. In accordance with the principles of classification management. Construction of national, regional, industrial, specific organizations, social forces and other levels should represent a diverse organizational structure of training. Strengthen football coaches, referees, teachers and other professionals for training. Completely bring into play the function of sports educational institutions and scientific research institutes for sport in terms of theoretical football research and the education of football professionals. Strengthen international exchanges and the introduction of a number of high-level foreign lecturers for our coaches, referees, and instructors, to implement large-scale training.

Strengthen of football management to train qualified personnel. Expand technical expertise at all levels of the football association, the clubs and other organizations to improve the quality of personnel and level of work. It is necessary to develop a modern football management which adapts to professionalism and internationalism.

Establish special football schools and academies. Adapt to the needs of the cultivation of football talent. Use the undergraduate study situation to set up football academies. A new form of football school should be established that actively brings cultural education with football together.

Good football players will create new job opportunities. Consistent and comprehensive planning of a market mechanism and policy guidelines will give football players a platform for re-employment. Providing necessary support for their training and assessment will allow them to serve as football coaches, referees, lecturers, or to be the backbone of the football movement in a company or the armed forced, or to work in the management and services area of the football association and football clubs.

Promoting the reform and development of the national football team.

Carefully build the national team. Bring into play the systematic superiority. Strengthen organizational leadership. Enhancing national pride and social responsibility. Carry forward the Chinese sports spirit. Create superb techniques, a tenacious style; fight tough battles so that the national football team can make our country proud. Give excellent performances to gain the confidence of the people and stimulate youthful enthusiasm to promote the development of football in the country. Intensify reforms.

According to the technical requirements, shape the physical and mental characteristics of the players and the development trends of modern football. Achieve a steady improvement in the level of the national team.

Optimizing team selection mechanism. Focus on the current and concentrate on looking forward. Adherence to technology and style. Adherence to openness, equality and competition. Priority selection of players who have a strong desire to serve their country. The willpower of the players who come to the national team will be first-class quality. The players of the national team will be nominated from all professional clubs. Carry out a dynamic selection mechanism so that at any time the national team is able to participate in a major tournament, has the technical and tactical skills, and is composed of the best talent. Strengthen the national team reservists with experienced players. Optimize the scouting of young football talents and the selection mechanism. Create a database of young first-class players with a view to the long-term. A dynamic adjustment of the list of players.

Improve ability to provide the service. Strengthen the funding for the national team, the incentive policies, the logistics services, the intelligence information and other aspects of security in order to improve the level of service. Build two new national training bases to satisfy the need that the national team has for matches and training in different seasons. Hire domestic and foreign high-level professionals. Thoroughly develop the football theory, tactics, medical rehabilitation, team management and other research. The management of the national team should be based on scientific research.

Strengthen coaches ability to build the team. Establish strict regulations that national team coaches and team management make the selection and check evaluation mechanisms to strengthen contract management. The coach is responsible for the enforcement of the game system. The coaching staff and management team are assessed in their term of office by their targets, so that responsibilities, rights and interests are clear and incentives and restrictions are placed.

Coordinate the needs of the national team and clubs. The scientific development has to be in line with our national conditions and the rules of professional football to develop the work planning and management system of the national team. Improve the systems of national team, professional leagues and other leagues at all levels. Develop a comprehensive understanding of competition cycles of the national team and the national competition plans. The clubs should put the masses in the first place and fully support the construction of the national team.

Strengthen the construction and management of football pitches

Expand the number of football pitches. Study and formulate a national construction plan for football pitches. The construction of new football pitches should be integrated into urban and rural construction planning. Clear rigid requirements that are implemented by all levels of government organizations. Adapt to local conditions to build football pitches. Make full use of urban and rural wasteland, unused land, parks, forests, roofs etc. The construction of a large number of simple and practical non-standard football pitches. Create the conditions to meet the site requirements of Campus Football.

Give political support for the construction of football pitches. Invest social capital into the construction of football pitches with a view to the implementation of land, taxation, financial and other preferential policies.
Improve the operational capabilities and comprehensive benefits of the venues and facilities, in accordance with the separation of management and the non-profit principle. The purchase of services is delegated by authority. Invite tenders to choose a professional social organization or enterprise responsible for the management and operation of public football pitches. Promote free or low-cost public football pitches which are open to the public. Promote use of school football pitches outside school hours for a low price or for free for public use. Schools and society should share football pitches.

Optimize investment mechanisms

Increase financial investment.

Governments at all levels should increase investment in football. According to the division of powers it will be mainly used in the construction of football venues, Campus Football, youth football, women’s football, the national team, teaching, research and other aspects. Sports, education and other relevant departments in the funding arrangements should give the reform and development of football preferential treatment.

The establishment of the China Football Development Foundation.

The foundation is a nonprofit organization. In compliance with law it will carry out fund-raising, donations and charity functions to encourage all kinds of enterprises, institutions, social forces and individual donations. Donated funds can legally be calculated as corporate income tax or personal income tax. The foundation will be managed in accordance with regulations. Strengthen information disclosure in accordance with relevant laws and regulations. Social supervision has to be accepted.

Strengthen the lottery to support the development of football. Every year the central management of the lottery has to make a charitable donation to the China Football Development Foundation fund. This is a special benefit for the youth football and the activities of public welfare. Promote actively the release of the Chinese Football League lottery quiz.

Strengthen the development of the football industry. Intensify and protect the development of intangible assets of football.

Creating a competitive brand. The development of football affiliate products. Cultivate a football service market. Explore the convergence of the football industry and related industries. Construct the whole process of the football industry chain. Increase the football industry revenue. Form a structural shape where various economic sectors jointly establish the pattern of the football industry.

Increase the market development efforts of the Chinese Football Association. Increase the market development gains of the league, cup, national team and others. Quickly sort out the relationship with business enterprises. According to the modern enterprise system subsidiaries should be established. Make these gradually become real market players. Simultaneously introduce new competitors. Build a structure that is market-oriented and guarantees fair competition.

The establishment of a television rights market competition mechanism. An innovative mechanism to achieve orderly competition in football broadcasting rights. Reform of the income distribution mechanism of football television rights to ensure that the competition organizers and competitors are the main beneficiaries. Innovation and promotion of football television broadcasting and the way it is operated. Explore a convergence of traditional and new media to achieve development in football. Increase revenue in new media.

Encourage social forces to develop football. Encourage powerful companies and individuals to invest in professional football clubs, organize sponsored football matches and public projects. Football should be exemplary and take a leading role. Expand sources of funding for clubs and football development.

Strengthen the leadership of football.

Establish an inter-ministerial joint conference system for the reform and development of football. Continue to promote the reform and development of football. Ensure the implementation of the program. Establish an inter-ministerial joint conference system for the reform and development of football. The Sports Administration should strengthen macro guidance and policy research on the reform and development of football. The Ministry of Education should hand over responsibility of the implementation of the Campus Football to a competent manager. Every entity should fulfill their duties, use their strength and work together to jointly promote the reform and development of football.

Regard football as an important agenda. All regions will place the reform and development of football as an important debate on their agenda. Emancipate the mind. Have clear objectives. Implement the plan. Integrate resources to create unified and comprehensive strength. Bold exploration. Form characteristics. Local sports administrative departments at all levels are responsible for the support of local football associations to promote the development of football in the region.

Strengthening the work style and the legal requirements in the football industry. Strengthen ideological and moral education and professional ethics education in the field of football. Strengthen the team spirit and the determination in sports as a character trait. Cultivate patriotism, dedication, perseverance, unity and hardworking style. Diligently promote the development and revitalization of Chinese football. This is good for social harmony and the progress of spiritual strength.

Adapt to the needs of the development of football and the industrial particularities. Optimization of relevant laws, regulations, standards and regulations of the football industry. Lay a solid foundation of football governance system. The formation of a football legal system that exerts prevention and punishment and has a law enforcement and supervision system.

Establishment of a fair and transparent legal environment – establish an environment for a good public opinion. Guide the masses to promote an understanding of the current situation in football. Establish reasonable expectations. A rational view of victory and defeat. Innovative football propaganda. Strengthen management involving football news and public opinion guidance. Maximize consensus on the reform and development of football.

Play an exemplary role. Select a number of places and cities with good football foundation, with good conditions for the development of football and with high enthusiasm. Strengthen support and guidance. Sum up and promote the exemplary experience of the reform and development of football. Use the experience of selected units to promote work in the entire area.

Promote improvement.

Wild East Football would like to sincerely thank Ilker Gündogan ( and Kadir Gürcan for this translation. Do not reproduce this translation without giving proper credit to these translators.

A leading international commentator on Chinese football frequently quoted by the world's top media. Offers piercing and resolutely honest insights into the bustling crossroads where football, society, economics and politics meet in contemporary China. Based in Shanghai since 2005, observer of the Chinese game since 2000.

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