Full-time, well-paid match of­fi­cials would im­prove game, CFA says

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By SUN XIAOCHEN sunx­i­aochen@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Wind­sor John, gen­eral sec­re­tary of Asian Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion

Im­pressed by China’s na­tional soc­cer re­forms, the game’s con­ti­nen­tal gov­ern­ing body — the Asian Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion — pledged more sup­port on Tues­day for the train­ing of coaches and ref­er­ees to help the coun­try re­al­ize its soc­cer am­bi­tions.

As China rolls out a na­tional blue­print to de­velop into a world soc­cer power, de­vel­op­ments from grass­roots pro­mo­tion to league com­pe­ti­tion have in­trigued Wind­sor John, the vis­it­ing gen­eral sec­re­tary of the con­fed­er­a­tion.

“We are very pleased about the re­forms that have taken place in China. The growth in at­ten­dance and pop­u­lar­ity of the Chi­nese Su­per League is a very pos­i­tive im­age for Asian foot­ball,” said Wind­sor, who is on his first of­fi­cial visit to China since tak­ing the helm in 2015. “The per­for­mance of the CSL clubs has become the bench- mark for other clubs in Asia.”

Since the State Coun­cil, China’s Cab­i­net, is­sued a soc­cer re­form plan in early 2015, with the goal of be­com­ing a strong soc­cer na­tion by 2050, in­vest­ment in the league has surged and the level of com­pe­ti­tion has im­proved, high­lighted by do­mes­tic cham­pion club Guangzhou Ever­grande’s vic­to­ries at the AFC Cham­pi­ons League in 2013 and 2015.

Still, the lack of enough qual­i­fied coaches and rel­a­tively poor of­fi­ci­at­ing have been tak­ing a toll. Wind­sor said the con­fed­er­a­tion is pre­pared to help.

“There are a lot of new pro­grams we are talk­ing about with the CFA,” he said, re­fer­ring to the Chi­nese Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion. “One of these is

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