Wednesday 20 December 2023, 22:30

FIFA President welcomes China PR’s youth focus for future development

  • Gianni Infantino underlines Chinese Football Association (CFA) President Song Kai’s “deep understanding” of grassroots and youth football

  • China PR aiming to exploit massive pool of potential talent to boost on-pitch success

  • Mr Song welcomes “in-depth discussions” on “next-step collaborations” with FIFA

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has told President Song Kai that FIFA will fully support his plans to place youth football at the centre of the Chinese Football Association’s (CFA) development strategy.

China PR’s men’s national team have only qualified once for the FIFA World Cup™ - back in 2002 - while the women’s national team have not been beyond the quarter-finals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ since 1999 and were knocked out in the group stage of the 2023 tournament.

With a population of more than 1.4 billion, the CFA has a massive potential pool of talent from which to cherry-pick the very best fledgling talents. The sharpening of their focus on youth football coincides with FIFA’s announcement that the girls’ and boys’ FIFA U-17 World Cups™ will now be annual events from 2025, giving the very best young talents in every country the opportunity to shine on the global stage.

“I was pleased to meet President Song Kai, and discuss FIFA's expanded and increased frequency of youth tournaments, because we recognise just how important developing young talent is to the future of the game,” said Mr Infantino, who will attend the FIFA Football Summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 21 December along with the CFA President.

“It is a vision President Song Kai shares, and I was delighted to learn more about his plans for grassroots football in China PR. With his extensive background in education, he has a deep understanding of how to lead Chinese football along what he describes as a long marching road – FIFA and I will be marching with him.”

Mr Song started his career as a teacher in the Physical Education department at Liaoning University and he has held various roles in a number of organisations that link sport and education. He stepped into the CFA President’s role in October 2023.

“We had very in-depth discussions in regard to the next-step collaborations between China PR and FIFA, especially in terms of the development of youth football,” said Mr Song following his meeting with the FIFA President.

“Since I came into the position, I am mainly dedicated to the development of youth football in China. I also hope to receive help and guidance from FIFA in terms of youth football development. 

“Hopefully, we will also have more opportunities to host international youth football competitions to promote the development of football in China, starting from our young generation, and catch up with the international level.”