The party’s goal: Football, long a national shame, becomes compulsory at school
Mr Xi wants to change this. He has been a football fan since childhood, when he played for his school team. During his early career he attended weekend matches. He was in the crowd at a Shanghai stadium in 1983 when China lost 5-1 to Watford, a British club. (The People’s Daily, a party-run newspaper, says Mr Xi was enraged.) At a meeting in 2011 with South Korean leaders, when he was still vice-president, Mr Xi expressed three wishes: for China to qualify for, host and win a World Cup.
The country’s rise as a football power might have just begun. On November 27th it was announced that football would become a compulsory part of the national curriculum at schools. Wang Dengfeng, an education official, said improving the standard of football in China must “start with children”.