China to fund, accelerate number of soccer grounds

China plans to offer financial support to build soccer fields in certain pilot cities as the authorities push ahead with reforms aimed at making the country a soccer power.

The plan to construct soccer fields for society at large to use was jointly issued in mid-July by the National Development and Reform Commission, the General Administration of Sport and the State Council’s office on soccer reform and development.

According to the plan, the commission will allocate investment from the central budget, and single out a number of county level and above cities across the country as pilots to receive subsidy for their soccer fields.

It will provide a maximum of two million yuan ($290,000) subsidy for newly built fields for public use.

The subsidy standard varies based on the scale of football fields: smaller fields that require 5-8 players in each team can receive a maximum one million yuan subsidy, while the bigger ones requiring 11 players in each team can receive 2 million yuan.

The subsidy will not go to soccer pitches that are reconstructed, expanded or renovated.

The plan also welcomes multiple channels of fund raising for the establishment of new soccer grounds, including local government finance, public welfare funds of sports lottery and development-oriented finance.

China aims to have more than 70,000 soccer pitches by 2020. At the end of 2013, China had about 10,000 pitches in “quite good” condition, and there are also about 40,000 in schools and universities which would be renovated. Another 20,000 would be built for society by 2020. By then, each county-level administrative area will have at least two standard pitches.

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