The Chinese Football Association (CFA) and Wanda Sports Holdings have revealed that the first-ever ‘China Cup’ international football tournament will take place in just six months time. The 2017 event will be held in the southern Chinese autonomous region of Guangxi, in Nanning city, from January 9 to 16. China and the three first-class national teams from Europe and the Americas will play four games, offering fans a glimpse of the highest levels of international soccer.
Wanda – who became a top-tier partner of FIFA earlier this year – and the CFA were granted approval by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the sport’s global governing body, FIFA, for the project to go ahead.
Wanda Sports Holdings owns the intellectual property rights to the tournament, and it has been agreed by all parties that beyond this event, China will not host similar international competitions.
As the host country, China will automatically qualify to enter its national team, meaning Chinese fans won’t have to go overseas or watch games at odd hours to enjoy the world’s top-level international competition.
The China Cup will be held annually, initially featuring competitions between four teams and gradually building up to eight teams in the future. In addition to China, other participating nations will be among the world’s top-ranking national ‘A’ teams, with their best players taking the field.
The first China Cup comes as the Country’s national team prepares to compete for a spot in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
China is the world’s most populous soccer market, and in recent years professional soccer has spread like wildfire, with professional soccer clubs rising to top levels in Asia. But China’s national team is lagging behind due to the lack of international competition. Chinese fans are eager to see their national team rise to the top, becoming a symbol of national football.
To help ‘rev up’ the competition, three teams with styles similar to Asian countries and with higher playing levels will be invited to take part in the China Cup in 2017.
Starting from 2018, the tournament will invite countries from Europe and the Americas whose teams have the highest skill levels, enabling international football stars to play in front of a vast number of Chinese soccer fans.
A company representative confirmed that to enhance China’s competitive skills and to revitalise Chinese football, Wanda has spent the last two years in more than 100 negotiations, undergoing major work to make this tournament happen and gain the support of the CFA.
Wanda Group Chairman, Wang Jianlin, said that he himself has had a lifetime love of football and sincerely hopes that the Chinese national team will play in the FIFA World Cup. He also added that founding the China Cup is just one way to revive Chinese football, helping the Chinese national team to hopefully propel to the FIFA World Cup finals.
Image: The Signing Ceremony for the China Cup. Courtesy: Wanda Group.
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