The Medium and Long-Term Development Plan of Chinese Football (2016-2050)

The Medium and Long-Term Development Plan of Chinese Football (2016-2050)


This is the exclusive translation of another important reform programme to develop Chinese football. In April 2016, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), a macroeconomic management agency under the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, announced a new reform programme called The Medium and Long-Term Development Plan of Chinese Football (2016-2050). According to the NDRC website, this reform programme was jointly prepared by the NDRC, the Office of the Inter-Ministerial Joint Conference on Football Reform and Development of the State Council (China Football Association), the General Administration of Sport, and the Ministry of Education and was approved by the State Council.


The Medium and Long-Term Development Plan of Chinese Football (2016-2050)

Since the reform and opening up to the outside world, China’s economy and society has developed rapidly. The living standards of the people improved remarkably. The demand of the masses for sports and physical exercise has grown increasingly. At present, China is in a crucial period of building comprehensively a society in which the material needs of most citizens are adequately met. The revitalisation and development of football is the fervent hope and expectation of the Chinese people. It is related to physical and mental health and the excellent education of culture. It is of great significance with regard to the construction of a powerful sports nation, the promotion of economic and social development and the realisation of the Chinese Dream, which is the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. The State Council has approved and formulated this plan in order to implement The State Councils Opinion on How to Accelerate the Development of Sports Industry to Promote Sports Consumption (2014) and The Overall Chinese Football Reform and Development Programme (2015) and other relevant documents and to promote the sustainable and healthy development of Chinese football. The short-term plan is until 2020, the medium-term plan is until 2030 and the long-term outlook is until 2050.


  1. The development foundation

Develop football progressively. At present, the number of people in China who participate regularly in football reached a certain scale and the number of football supporters passed 100 million. The initial popularisation of campus football and the gradual formation of the league system resulted in more than 100,000 matches each year. Social football has begun to take shape. Football associations, business enterprises and social communities actively carry out football activities at all levels. Organise every year more than 20,000 amateur football competitions. Professional football has developed steadily. The number of professional football clubs reached 52. The Chinese Super League, China League One and China League Two were initially established as the main body of the professional league framework.

The football industry has begun to take shape. After many years of development, China’s football industry expands progressively. The supply chain is continuously expanding and the effect of providing impetus is increasing with every passing day. The attention of the football masses is continuously increasing. Over the past decade, the average attendance rate in the Chinese Super League reached 15,000 spectators per match.

The international exchanges are increasing. There is a distinct raise in international football activities, becoming an important part of sports diplomacy. The level of internationalisation improves increasingly. The number of domestic athletes, sports coaches and referees that go abroad to study, train, and take part in competitions increased significantly. The introduction of foreign coaches and athletes improved the level significantly. Domestic and international high-level football clubs form a cooperation mechanism.Although the development of football in China has made some progress and possessed the necessary foundation, in overall there are still many existing problems: the development concept lags behind, the knowledge about the value and development pattern of football is insufficient, the thinking of looking only for fast returns is relatively serious; the organisation mechanism is fallen behind, there is still the problem that politics and society, control and management and matter and business are not divided; the level of rule of law is inadequate, behaviours and customs are not correct and the competition order is in disorder, there is a lack of effective supervision; the football foundation is weak, there is a shortage of qualified personnel and the facilities are inadequate, it is difficult to satisfy the increasingly growing societal demand for football.


  1. The overall thinking
  • Guiding ideology

Comprehensively implement the spirit of the third, fourth and fifth plenary session of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Thoroughly study and implement the spirit in the important speeches of General Secretary Xi Jinping. Promote the implementation of the “Four comprehensives”. Establish a modern football philosophy. Be in compliance with the development pattern of football. Use services with the objective to comprehensively develop the people. Use the reform and innovation as a driving force. Use the popularisation of football as the orientation. Continue to make efforts for a long-term achievement. Solidly build the institutional foundation, talent base, facility basis and societal foundation of football development. Continuously increase the size and quality of football. Continuously strengthen the physique and health level of the whole nation. Take a football development path that fits with the realities in China. Make great efforts to realise “the dream of football emergence, the dream of a powerful sports nation and the dream of national rejuvenation”.

  • Strategic positioning

An important undertaking for physical exercise of the entire population. Football is a sport that is widespread and extensively loved by the people. The revitalisation and development of football can increase the level of participation in physical exercise of the entire population. Increasing the quality of health of the masses is an important pillar to raise the level of mental and physical health of the entire population.

An important industry of the national economy. Football is an emerging and green industry. In the transitional pattern, the adjustment of the structure plays an important role for the short-term development. The revitalisation and development of football can expand consumption, stimulate the sports and other related industries and create a new economic growth spot.

An important cornerstone of the powerful sports nation. Football is a global sport that possesses extensive influence. The revitalisation and development of football can promote the comprehensive development of sports, support the rise of China’s dream of becoming a powerful sports nation and draw a blueprint for the great rejuvenation of the nation.

An important vehicle of the national spirit. Football has an important educational function and is conducive for the promotion of socialist core values. The revitalisation and development of football can create a football culture with Chinese characteristics, encourage people to have a tenacious and struggling spirit, promote the comprehensive development of the people and enhance the cohesion and pride of the Chinese nation.

  • Development principles

Insist on compliance with law and sustainable development. Follow the pattern of football development, scientific planning and be people-oriented in order to advance orderly and perseveringly starting from the children, the grassroots, and the foundation.

Persist in leading the reform and innovative development. Fully display that football has a leading role for China’s sports development and reform. Utilise the institutional reform as a breakthrough. Transform the pattern of football development. Actively explore the new path of football development. Enhance the vitality and level of football.

Insist on governance that is according to law and the development of regulation. Bring the football development in line with rule of law. Comprehensively promote the concept and raise the level of rule by law. Create a development environment of equal participation and fair competition. Construct a governance system that is according to law and is in compliance with regulations.

Insist on public interest and the development of opening up. Fully mobilise the enthusiasm and creativity of the whole society. Create a good atmosphere of attaching importance to football, supporting football and participating in football. Increase the level of domestic and foreign opening up and develop win-win cooperation.


  1. Development objectives
  • Short-term goals (2016-2020)

Make great efforts to realise the development goals of protecting the fundamentals, strengthening the grassroots and building the foundation of Chinese football.

Protect fundamentals: The people’s demand for football needs to be fundamentally satisfied. The space, time and funding for the development of football needs to be fundamentally protected. The whole society supports and is concerned about the fundamentally formed good atmosphere of football development.

Strengthen grassroots: Accelerate the development of campus football. The number of schools that are specialised in football reached 20,000. The number of primary and secondary school students that regularly participate in football exceeded 30 million. The development foundation of social football has been continuously consolidated. Grassroots football organisations develop vigorously. Grassroots football activities are launched extensively. The number of people that frequently participate in football surpassed 50 million in total.

Build foundation: The football management system with Chinese characteristics has been initially established. The policy legislation has a basic framework. Industry norms and standards tend to improve. The competition and training system have to be scientific and reasonable. The football undertaking and the industry form together the fundamental development pattern. The amount of national football pitches surpassed 70,000, so that every ten thousand people have 0.5-0.7 football pitches available.

  • Medium-term goals (2021-2030)

Strive to achieve that Chinese football is more powerful, more dynamic and more influential. The development goal is to become one of the world’s powerful teams.

More powerful: The management system is scientific and unhindered. Laws and regulations are perfect sound. Diversified investments sustain stability. The foundation of the football population is robust. Every ten thousand people have one football pitch available.

More dynamic: The systems of campus football, social football and professional football run effectively. All kind of market players participate actively. The scope of the football industry has improved to a large extent and became an important engine of the sports industry.

More influence: The professional league organisation and competition level reached top quality in Asia. The men’s national football team is among the top teams in Asia. The women’s national team returns among the top teams in the world. The image of the country as a sports power is promoted one step further.

  • Long-term goals (2031-2050)

With all one’s strength achieve the goal of becoming one of the leading football powers. Achieve a comprehensive development of Chinese football. The common football dream of the sons and daughters of the Chinese nation is to make a contribution to world football.


  1. Main tasks
  • Build the institutional system

Build scientifically a football management system with Chinese characteristics. Build a management framework where the government is carrying forward the overall plan, the division of labour and responsibility is divided and the participation of the society is extensive. The main responsibility of the government is to provide public services, to create the environment for a market and to strengthen management and supervision. The sports administration departments strengthen policy research and macro guidance of the reform and development of football. Promote synergies and cooperation between the various functional departments. The educational administration departments are responsible for campus football. Actively promote the development of campus football. The main responsibility of the Chinese Football Association is to unify organisation and to manage and guide the national football development. Promote the popularisation and improvement of football.

Create a perfect and sound mechanism for the sustainable development of football. Stimulate market vitality and fully mobilise the social forces to participate in the football development initiative. Realise that football creates a virtuous circle of social and economic benefits. Break the barriers of interests, create an environment of fair competition and promote the optimisation of resource allocation.

Column 1, the “13th Five-Year Plan”, the crucial project of reforming the football system

Deepen the reform of the management system of the football association. Adjust and reform the Chinese Football Association. Improve the internal management mechanism of the Chinese Football Association. Strengthen the management system of the associations. Progressively establish a perfect association management system with reasonable structure, clear responsibilities, sound regulations and improved supervision. Form a new mechanism in which the management of the association is independent according to law and equipped with scientific and democratic decision-making. The local football association and industries consult and follow the formation and adjustment of the Chinese Football Association. Establish a management mechanism for the professional league that is an independent mass organisation and responsible for the organisation and management of the professional league. Improve the corporate governance structures of the clubs. Accelerate the construction of a modern enterprise system. Promote the localisation of the clubs and the abolition of company names from the club names.


Establish a standardised and effective football system that is ruled by law. Improve the relevant national laws and regulations and the rules and standards of the football industry. Promote the standardisation. Improve the supervision, law enforcement and arbitration mechanisms. Strengthen the football organisations, clubs and employees self-discipline and integrity. Seriously control the style and discipline of the competition. In conformity with legal provisions, strictly investigate and handle illegal criminal activities in the football sphere. Improve the service and security standards of football competitions. Actively promote the standardisation and socialisation of services and security.

  • Cultivation of talent

There is a substantial increase in youth football participation. Strengthen the construction of campus football. Include football to the teaching content of physical education classes. Develop football as a mass organisation. Cultivate football interest. Launch football competition activities. Continuously cultivate amateur football and football talent. Strengthen the sense of identity of students and parents towards football. Support students to participate in extracurricular football activities outside school hours. Use marketization and socialisation as orientation. Build a multi-channel and multi-shaped talent detection and training mechanism. Continuously increase the reserve forces of football talent.

Column 2, the “13th Five-Year Plan”, the popularisation operations of campus football

Deepen the reform of football education. Form a youth football education system that is rich in content, diversified and in line with the student’s ability (individualised). Formulate a teaching and training guide for campus football. Develop internet courses for Campus Football that is free of charge open to public use. The teachers are the backbone of campus football. They should teach the training programmes on the national level in kindergartens, primary and secondary schools. For this reason, 50,000 qualified part-time football teachers will be trained. Establish a robust competition system of campus football. Implement throughout the country a four-level league system of campus football. Improve the policies for the examination and the enrolment of new students. Encourage students to actively participate over a long-term in football learning and training. Support the construction of a number of schools that are specialised in campus football and pilot project counties.

Expand significantly the number of coaches and referees. Improve the level of football teaching and learning of the physical education teachers. Expand the number of teachers that are specialised in football. Cultivate football coaches and referees at schools. Strengthen the cultivation of professional football coaches and referees. Continuously improve the cultivation system of coaches and referees. Build a service system for the guidance of community football. Improve the level of technical ability of social sports instructor’s. Areas that meet the conditions explore the establishment of posts for specialised instructors in community football. Encourage specialised coaches and referees to serve in urban and rural communities and campuses.

Establish a virtuous development mechanism for professional athletes. Progressively increase the number of registered footballers. Optimise the detection and selection mechanism. Allow excellent football players with good skills and high personal accomplishment to rise above others. Insist on the combination of sport skills and cultural education. Increase the efforts of multi-skilled education and training. Broaden the development space of retired athletes. Open channels for coaches, referees, social sport instructors, businesses and institutions and people from the management of football associations to change jobs.

Foster a hybrid pattern of industrial talent. Turn towards market demand. Educate the talent of the football industry through colleges and universities, research institutes, vocational training and education, continuing education and various other forms. Focus on the development of business management, capital operations, promotion of marketing, research and development designs, intermediary services, cultural creativity and other professional experts. Strengthen the international cooperation and exchanges of talent in the football industry.


Column 3, the “13th Five-Year Plan”, the plan to develop specialised talent

Increase the number of students that have their major in football and recruit them from sports colleges and universities. Encourage the students with other majors to take an optional course in football. Rely on the conditions of undergraduate colleges to establish a football academy. Actively offer football specialisation in secondary vocational schools. Encourage social forces to organise football training mechanisms. Accelerate the education of professional football coaches and community football instructors. Increase the number of people that are trained with each passing year, reaching 10,000 people in 2020. Improve the training system of football referees. The total number of registered referees should be doubled.


  • Construction of sport facilities

Plan scientifically the development of football pitches and facilities. Expand the supply of football pitches. Optimise the type structure. Improve the quality of facilities. Continuously meet all the development requirements of social football. Progressively configure the perfect football pitches and facilities according to the population size, natural conditions and the level of economic development. Formulate a construction guide for all types of football pitches. Develop an innovative pattern for the management of football pitches and facilities. Promote the intensive and efficient use of sports pitches and facilities.

Increase the efforts to build sports pitches for campus football. Every primary and secondary school that is a school with football characteristics has without exception one or more than one football pitches. The colleges and universities have to meet the condition to build one or more than one standard football pitches. Other schools create the conditions for the construction of appropriate football pitches. Increase the utilisation ratio of football pitches in schools. Accelerate the formation of an open sharing mechanism of campus and social sports facilities.

Promote the community to join the construction of football pitches. Consider the construction of community football pitches in urban and new rural planning. Encourage the construction of small and diversified football pitches, so that urban and rural residents can conveniently participate in their neighbourhood in football.

Column 4, the “13th Five-Year Plan”, focus on the construction of football pitches and facilities

Renovate, transform and built 60,000 football pitches in the whole country, so that every ten thousand people have 0.5-0.7 football pitches. Among them are 40,000 pitches for campus football and 20,000 pitches for social football. Except a few mountain areas, every administrative area on the county level has to build at least two standard football pitches. Cities with new residential areas should meet the condition to build one or more than one five-a-side football pitches. Old residential areas should also create the conditions for the transformation and construction of small and diversified sports pitches and facilities.


  • Plenty of competition activities

Extensively launch campus football activities. Launch campus football competitions to strengthen one’s physical health and happiness. Organise various forms of campus football activities in order to reach the aim of enhancing the students’ quality of physique and willpower, popularising football knowledge and technical abilities and cultivating football interest as a hobby. Progressively improve the four-level competition of campus football at universities and colleges, high schools, junior high schools and elementary schools. Organise the competition activities scientifically, reasonable and appropriately.

Optimise the professional league structure. Improve the composition of the professional league framework. Form a league structure that increases progressively the number of competing teams at the Chinese Super League, China League One and China League Two. Expand steadily the number of teams in the China League One and China League Two. Improve the quality of professional league competitions. Promote the management modernisation of the professional leagues. Continuously improve the level of league operations and management. Promote professional clubs to establish modern governance structures.

Support social football activities. Encourage to use methods in line with local circumstances, organise multiple forms of regional community football teams, associations and non-professional football leagues. Pay attention to family participation and enrich the form of social football competitions. Pay attention to the organic link of competitions on the regional level, youth competitions and campus football competitions. Progressively realise the science-based competition structure. Support the internal competition activities of party and government organisations, enterprises and institutions, mass organisations and grassroots units. Strengthen the promotion and popularisation of social football.

Column 5, the “13th Five-Year Plan”, the plan to promote the professional league

Establish the framework of the professional football league fundamentally as an intact system and with a reasonable composition. Scientifically set the number of competing teams. Form a reasonable league structure of the Chinese Super League, China League One and China League Two. Strictly regulate the admittance and management standards of professional football clubs. Strengthen the self-discipline of the industry. Strengthen the formation of professional clubs. Expand the influence of the professional league. Enhance the brand value of the Chinese Super League, so that the average attendance rate of spectators that go to football stadiums reaches the forefront of the world.


Column 6, the “13th Five-Year Plan”, cultivate social football operations

50 cities with a relatively good foundation establish a hierarchical system of urban amateur football. Establish grassroots teams in 100 cities across the country in order to broaden the participation in the urban amateur football cup. Furthermore, form the amateur football competition framework with annual city competitions, regional competitions and national finals. Actively support and encourage the industry, enterprises, people’s organisations, communities and other parts of society to organise amateur football activities. Encourage the systematical combination of urban football competitions, leagues and cups. Progressively build a development system of social football. Promote and popularise social football activities. Create a social atmosphere of broad participation.


  • Strengthen the football industry

Rapidly develop the football service industry. Actively develop high-level football competitions. Promote the development of television broadcasting, media advertisement, internet services, mass entertainment and other related industries. Vigorously develop the service market such as the football stadium operations, football training and football intermediary agencies. Accelerate the development of financial and insurance services in football. Actively study and carry forward the release of the football lottery that targets professional football leagues in China.

Make the manufacturing industry for football products bigger and stronger. Rapidly develop a research and development plan for football products, sportswear, equipment and facilities, souvenirs, and the promote manufacturing and sales. Create a number of leading enterprises and international brands.

Column 7, the “13th Five-Year Plan”, the cultivation of outstanding football enterprises

Cultivate 2-3 football clubs that are first-class in Asia and world famous. Develop the Chinese football brand. Expand the influence in the world. Promote and cultivate the football clubs to meet the conditions in order to hit the market. Support enterprises in their efforts to invest increasingly in research and development and planning. Foster the formation of a number of football product manufacturing enterprises that have strong independent innovation capabilities, high technology products and content and international reputation. Support the development of a number of small- and medium-sized enterprises in the growth of football. Support their entry into all types of business platforms and innovation bases. Provide football operations, football training, football online media, community platforms and other services. Encourage the football industry to establish manufacturing enterprises, service providers, professional football clubs and others.


Promote that the football industry and other related industries develop together. Accelerate the interactive development of the football industry with the tourism industry, construction industry, cultural and creative industry, catering and hotel industry, healthcare industry and other industries. Induce labour to create new football formats.

Column 8, the “13th Five-Year Plan”, the “Football + Internet” innovation operations

Promote the deep integration of the internet technology with the football industry. Focus on the introduction of mobile internet, e-commerce, big data and other new technologies and formats. Promote the football industry to create a lot of innovations. Actively take advantage of internet platforms. Form a broadcasting competition pattern that is effective and multi-participated (not including the Olympic Games, Asian Games and the World Cup) in order to provide for the majority of fans a variety of broadcasting forms and diverse options. Support the development of mobile phone applications, internet and mobile phone football games, football cartoons and comics (animes and mangas) and film and television productions.


  • Cultivate football culture

Inherit the traditional culture of the Chinese nation. Establish a football philosophy that is healthy, joyful and eager to make progress. Give full play to the positive impact of football on body and moral, so that participation in football becomes an important way to a healthy lifestyle. Vigorously carry forward the sports spirit of struggling hard to forge ahead, unity and cooperation and sharing happiness. Strengthen the construction of an honest system. Actively advocate the behavioural norms of respecting the rules, the opponents and the spectators. Continuously strengthen the collective sense of glory and national pride through football. Attach importance to the impact of new media and the dedication of football volunteers with the spirit of friendship, mutual help and progress. Make great efforts to create a good atmosphere with civilised participation and attendance in competitions, so that football becomes an important vector of spreading positive energy.

  • Promote the opening up of football

Implement the plan to introduce plan overseas talent. Attract that high-level football talent comes to work in China. Improve immigration, residence, medical care, education of their children and other related policies. Actively introduce foreign capital. Optimise the ownership structures of local football clubs and other football enterprises. Improve the level of operational management and the diversification of profits. Expand the foreign exchange channels of football. Encourage all bodies to host various forms of international football exchange activities. Encourage all kind of football experts to go abroad for study and training. Support more outstanding experts to work in international organisations.


  1. Form coherent policies and ensure measures
  • Financial and fiscal policies

Improve the investment mechanism of public financing to develop football activities. Increase the efforts to support the development of football by purchasing services through the government and various other ways. Increase the investments. Arrange investments to support the foundation and public welfare for the construction of football pitches and facilities. Encourage financial institutions to expand into the new business field of football on the basis of risk control and commercial sustainability. Broaden the investment and circulation channels of capital in the football industry. Support enterprises to enter the capital market or issue bonds in accordance with the conditions of football products and sporting services. Encourage enterprises and social capital to establish in cooperation or alone a football development fund. Adopt the pattern of direct investment, preferential loans (discount), financial subsidies, long-term rewards, etc. in order to support the development activities in football. Guide insurance companies to introduce diversified insurance products according to the characteristics of football development, for instance, disability insurances for professional athletes, personal accident insurances for campus football and social football and property insurances for football pitches and facilities. Encourage enterprises, schools, individuals to purchase sports injury insurances.

  • Planning and land policies

Bring the construction of football pitches and facilities into the urban and rural planning, the overall land use planning and the annual land use planning in order to guarantee the allocation and construction of sports facilities. Encourage newly built residential areas and communities to build football pitches. Support old city districts and the already established residential areas to transform the existing facilities and increase the space for football activities. Make use of qualified green areas at parks and urban and rural vacant places to build football pitches. The land use projects for the newly built football pitches and facilities should be paid separately and be in conformity with legal provisions. After publishing the land supply plan, there was only one intention of the land users, to adapt a way to agree on the offer. Those who form other projects to build football pitches and facilities integrate the construction requirements in the conditions of land supply. Make use of the allocation method to acquire the real estate reserves and raw land to set up football pitches and facilities. The land use and the usage rights cannot be temporarily changed. Those who continuously do business for more than 1 year and are in line with the “Land Use Allocation Catalog” can handle the way of allocation for the land use procedures. Those who are not in line with regulations should adopt and agree on the procedures to transfer one’s property rights to somebody else. It is strictly forbidden to change the land use of football pitches and facilities. If the land use is not changed in accordance with the urban planning, it should be taken back and the use should be re-arranged by the government.

  • Tax and price policies

The owned property and land on which football stadiums are located can according to the relevant regulations enjoy a preferential real estate tax and urban land use tax. Social organisations in the football sphere benefit in conformity with legal provisions from the relevant preferential policies. If they are qualified they gain the tax exemptions of non-profit organisations for the enterprise income tax and other related preferential policies. According to the tax law regulations the advertising expenditures of football clubs and other related enterprises can be deducted before taxation. Encourage enterprises and social forces to donate football sportswear and equipment. Support the development of campus football and social football. Donations should meet the conditions prescribed by the tax laws and regulations. In accordance with relevant regulations in calculating the amount of taxable income deduction, the donations should meet the conditions prescribed by the tax laws and regulations. The water, electricity, gas and heating prices of football pitches and facilities should not exceed the general industrial standards.

  • Talent and employment policies

Establish and specify the registration system of athletes, coaches, referees and other personnel. Organise the compensation and transfer mechanism for football players. Promote the integration into international rules and regulations. Increase the efforts to train football practitioners. Cultivate the specialised skills of campus football teachers, social football instructors and football coaches. According to the regulations integrate the cultivation of teachers, the physical exercise of the entire population, the education of talented personnel, the employment training and other specialised areas. Encourage communities and enterprises and others to create relevant jobs. Attract retired athletes and sports coaches to be engaged in the guidance of social football operations. Through the purchase of services, special engaged teachers and other ways hire retired athletes and sports coaches to participate in the development of campus football. Through vocational training and the cultivation of entrepreneurship support retired athletes to be engaged in football-related industrial operations.

  • Organise implementation and monitor evaluation

All parts of the country must actively carry out the implementation of this plan. Establish due to the leadership of the government. The administrative departments that are related to the football association and other community organisations participate jointly in the operation mechanism of football development. Effectively strengthen the leadership organisation and the coordination communication. It is demanded to accelerate the formulation of a local football development plan and to implement the programme. Establish a dynamic mechanism to follow monitoring and examine evaluation. Ensure the duty to implement in place, carry forward the assignments smoothly and achieve the objectives of the plan as scheduled. The National Development and Reform Commission, the Office of the Inter-Ministerial Joint Conference on Football Reform and Development of the State Council (China Football Association), the General Administration of Sport, the Ministry of Education and others are in charge of the inspection and supervision of this plan.


Original title: 《中国足球中长期发展规划(2016—2050年)》