Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Manchester City during his first state visit to the United Kingdom, starting Monday.
During his stay in the city, the president will visit Etihad Stadium, home to Premier League team Manchester City. Twitter: @
Xi’s passion for the sport has hardly been a secret. Even before he assumed office as president, he had identified three key goals for China – to qualify for another World Cup, to host a World Cup and to win a World Cup championship.
In order to achieve those dreams, the Chinese government announced this year a plan to reform the way the sport is governed and managed in the country, with greater focus on schools and facilities to encourage world class athletes at a young age.
So why has President Xi chosen to visit Manchester City? For starters, the club has been among the more successful Premier League teams in the last few years, after it was bought by the Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008.
The team won the 2010-2011 FA Cup, the 2011-2012 Premier League title and the 2013-2014 League Cup. It is also one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world.
Along with that, there is a significant Chinese connection to Manchester City in player Sun Jihai. Sun played for City for seven seasons, from 2002 to 2008, becoming the first Chinese footballer to score in the Premier League. He will be accompanying Xi during his visit to the club.
Reports have indicated that China could take advice from the winning club in a bid to boost football in the country.
When Prince William visited China in March 2015 to deliver Queen Elizabeth’s invitation for the president’s United Kingdom visit next week, the two had chatted merrily about their shared passion for the sport.
Xi had then expressed his desire for China to learn from the world’s top football countries, including the U.K. Prince William, meanwhile, had hoped that there would be more Chinese footballers in the Premier League.
During an interview prior to his visit to the U.K., Xi has been quoted as saying that China and the U.K. can cooperate in cultivating soccer talents, players, coaches and judges.
Story by CCTV NEWS.