China’s bold football plan

‘We played well under Frank Lampard’ says Azpilicueta

Jinping, who is reportedly a huge fan of the sport, chaired a group that has released a national reform plan for soccer.

He will have taken heart from China's performances in the Asian Cup, where they won three group games before they were knocked out in the quarter-finals.

The president reportedly wants to increase the number of Chinese people who play soccer. In November last year the Ministry of Education decreed that soccer be added to the national curriculum.

A statement from the reform committee said: "We must develop and revitalize soccer to ensure we are a strong nation of sports," according to a statement issued after a meeting of the central reform leading group.

"It is the desperate desire of the people as well.

"More efforts should be made at the grassroots level to nurture young talents and to ensure the integration of professional clubs, school teams and amateur teams."