The Overall Chinese Football Reform and Development Programme (2015)

The Overall Chinese Football Reform and Development Programme (2015)


The General Office of the State Council published the “The Overall Chinese Football Reform and Development Programme”.

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 already agreed to the “The Overall Chinese Football Reform and Development Programme” and is requesting for implementation (2015-03-16).

The Overall Chinese Football Reform and Development Programme

Since Comrade Xi Jinping has become General Secretary in the 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, 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. Premier Li Keqiang 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 national football is an unprecedented opportunity.

Football has a great social impact and is loved by the great masses. The development and revitalisation of football will improve the physical condition of the Chinese people, enrich the cultural life, promote the spirit of patriotism and collectivism, cultivate sports culture, and develop the sports industry. This has a great significance for the realisation of the dream of becoming a powerful sports nation. This has great importance for the development of the economy, society and culture. The Chinese football has already achieved good results in Asia. In the 1990s, the professionalization of football has 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 organisation 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. The development and competition of the industry have been disturbed and the sporting success has declining.

After 2009 an administrative restructuring was carried out to combat illegal gambling and corruption. Development initiatives such as 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 revitalisation 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 revitalised. The football reform was introduced in the spirit of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and the second, third and fourth plenary sessions to meet the new expectations of the people, to improve the image of Chinese sports and to realise the dream of becoming a powerful sports nation. The following plan was elaborated to implement the decisions of the Central Committee and the State Council.

  1. 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 sessions of the 18th Central Committee should be fully implemented. The speeches of Xi Jinping should serve as a basis for the implementation of reform measures. 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 realise 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 the top-level planning. Focusing on the implementation of the strategy. Promote the development of football through the participation of the population and develop facilities, management and culture.

– A combination of innovative reconstruction and management of problems. Emancipation of spirit and mind. Transformation of concept. Optimise 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. Use the superiority of the socialist system. Join forces to integrate the resources. Fully make use of the market mechanism. Inspire vitality. Create a fair and honest environment in order to promote the protection of equal competition.

– A combination of football development and the improvement of physical health of the entire nation. The promotion of football will improve the athleticism of the masses.

  • The main objective

Integrate the development of football into the economic and social development plan. Implement a “three-step-strategy”.

– Short-term goal: Improve the environment and atmosphere for the development of football. Optimise the football management system. Design a medium- and long-term development plan. Create 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 of youth football. The League organisation and the level of competition have to become the best in Asia. The men’s national football team should be the best in Asia. The women’s national football team should return to be among the top teams in the world.

– Long-term goal: The realisation 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 organisation and the level of competition will enter the global forefront. Actively 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.


  1. Adaptation of the Chinese Football Association to the reforms
  • A clear positioning and function

The Chinese Football Association (CFA) is a public good, broadly representative and professional. It is the authority in charge of national football. It is the only legitimate organisation 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.

  • Reorganisation of the CFA

According to the separation of politics and society there must be clear responsibilities. The CFA has to be built on the principle of legal autonomy. The CFA and the General Administration of Sport (GAS) should be independent from each other. Different organisational structures. The decoupling of the CFA from the GAS should include the reorganisation 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.

  • Optimisation of the leadership institution

The CFA has no administrative level. The leadership institution should embody a wide representation and professionalization. The CFA 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

Improve the internal governance structure of the CFA. Improve the functioning of the power structure and working procedures. Establish policy-making power, implementation power, monitoring power, reciprocal restriction power and coordination mechanism. Strengthen self-construction. Recruit 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 CFA should be operated as a mass organisation. Financial disclosure. Accept audit and supervision.

  • Development of an association management system

The members of the CFA should cover the regional football associations geographically and reflect the industry broadly. The regional football associations and industry should be part of the CFA management system. Regional football associations and industries are responsible for their region, for example for building a membership organisation 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 organisation. Management of efficiency. Powerful cooperation. Adaptation to the modern football management system.

  • Strengthen the leadership of the party

Strengthen the football association as an organisation mechanism of the party. Proceed in accordance with the principles of the party cadres and the personnel policy of the party. Strengthen the association ideology, the political work and the daily management of cadres. The CFA is built as a party committee and the party organisation is led by the leadership of the GAS.


  1. Improvement and reform of the structure and management model of professional football clubs
  • Promote the healthy and stable development of football clubs

Strict access regulation. Standardised management of professional football clubs. Recognise their important role and position in the professional league. Clubs should focus on their own structure. Improve the rules and regulations. Strengthen 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 why there is a lack of stable football clubs and unstable reliability. Cultivate actively a stable fan base and urban football culture.

  • Optimisation 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 local governments. Form a rational structure of investment sources. Stimulate the realisation of the club location. Stimulate the realisation of the localisation of football clubs. Encourage clubs to gradually drop company names from the club name. Optimise the corporate governance structure of football clubs. Accelerate the construction of a modern enterprise system. Long-term orientation. Systematic planning. Rigorously establish durable clubs.

  • Advance the clubs to promote talented people

Set the standards for the introduction of talents 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. Prevent the problem of disorderly competition and other issues. Investigate the quota for foreign players and other relevant decision-making mechanisms. Handle the relationship between foreign aid and the development of local football 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.


  1. Improving the football competition system and professional league system
  • Strengthen the competition system

Optimise 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 and the youth level, linked up with Campus Football, for the realisation of a scientific competition structure. Gradually create a youth league system. Actively promote industry to organise futsal, beach football and other sports competitions in municipalities, businesses, military, and elderly communities.

  • Create a committee to regulate professional football

Set up an independent committee which is responsible for the organisation and management of the professional league. Create an appropriate structure of the Chinese Super League, the second and third division. Starting from the basic political system, the CFA 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 CFA with whom they take part in decisions and discussions.

  • Optimisation of the bonus system in competitions

The development is in accordance with the characteristics of football. Unlike other sports projects there are award criteria.

  • Maintain the competitive order

Adhere to fair competition. Build excellent sportsmanship. Competition organisation and management department of sport should cooperate with the respective authorities of public security to strengthen management. Everyone should pursue their duties. Optimise the security measures. The police are responsible for monitoring of security and order at football matches. The organisation 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. Build 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.


  1. 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. Strengthen the advocacy, recognition and support of parents and 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 popularisation. 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 specialised 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. Optimise 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. Improve the examination and enrolment 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 talent

Promote the establishment of school teams at all levels. Place emphasis on optimising the normalisation, the 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. Promote the introduction of foreign football coaches. 50,000 schools that are specialised in football should emerge until the year 2020. Part-time football teachers should be trained in the first phase. Optimise the policy measures. Strengthen professional training. This is a chance for retired professional footballers to obtain a new job as physical education teacher.


  1. Develop the popularity of social football
  • Promote the popularity of football

Maintain the way that people are treated as the most important. Accelerate the promotion of the development of social football to expand the size of the football population. Encourage organisations, institutions, people’s organisations, military and businesses 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 organisations and other mass organisations 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.


  1. Improve the promotion of technical football staff as development mode
  • Expand channels and space to grow football players

Increase training efforts. Optimise selection mechanism. Create multiple channels for elite football players. Strengthen 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 in order to provide a growth path from social football to professional football. Construct a good combination between education and sport. Strengthen 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 organisations, social forces and other levels should represent a diverse organisational structure of training. Strengthen the 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 football management to train qualified personnel

Expand technical expertise at all levels of the football association, the clubs and other organisations 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. Set up football academies in accordance with the conditions in the undergraduate studies. A new form of football schools 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, and lecturers, or to be the backbone of the football movement in a company or the army, or to work in the management and services area of the football association and football clubs.


  1. Promote the reform and development of the national football team
  • Carefully build the national team

Bring into play the systematic superiority. Strengthen organisational leadership. Enhance 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.

  • Optimise the team selection mechanism

Persist in focusing 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 team. Strengthen the national team reservists with experienced players. Optimise 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 the 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 the ability of coaches 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 match formation. 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 work planning and management system of the national team. Improve the systems of the 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.


  1. 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 the urban and rural construction planning. Clear rigid requirements that are implemented by all levels of government organisations. Adapt to local conditions to build football pitches. Make full use of urban and rural wasteland, unused land, parks, forests, roofs etc. Build 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 etc. is delegated by authority. Invite tenders to choose a professional social organisation 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 the use of school football pitches outside school hours for a low price or for free for public use. Schools and society should share the football pitches.


  1. Optimise investment mechanisms
  • Increase financial investment

Governments at all levels should increase investment in football. According to the division of power it will be mainly used in the construction of football venues, Campus Football, youth football, women’s football, 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 a preferential treatment.

  • Establish the China Football Development Foundation

The foundation is a non-profit organisation. In compliance with law it will carry out fund-raising, donations and charity functions to encourage all kind 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 the 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 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. Create a competitive brand. Develop 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 CFA

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

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

  • Encourage social forces to develop football

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


  1. 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 programme. 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 Campus Football to a competent manager. Every entity should fulfil their duties; use their strength and work together to jointly promote the reform and development of football.

  • 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 the local football associations to promote the development of football in the region.

  • Strengthen 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 revitalisation 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. Optimise relevant laws, regulations, standards and regulations of the football industry. Lay a solid foundation of football governance system. Form a football legal system that exerts prevention and punishment and has a law enforcement and supervision system. Establish a fair and transparent legal environment.

  • Create 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 dissemination. Strengthen management involving football news and public opinion guidance. Maximise 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.


Original title: 《中国足球改革发展总体方案》