Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Head of French armed forces quits; Six months of President Trump

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Man vs Shark: Michael Phelps loses 'race' to great white

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Chris Froome 'almost' among the greats with fourth Tour de France win

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

International Francophone Games kick off in Abidjan

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Iran open to dialogue with Saudis, says top diplomat

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Spicer bows out of White House

Read more

FOCUS

Iraq's Mosul: Rebuilding a city fractured by sectarian mistrust

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Bistrot or bust? Why France's famed cafés are disappearing

Read more

REPORTERS

Video: Afghans live in fear as kidnappings soar

Read more

REPORTERS

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2017-07-16

China dreams of superpower status on the football pitch

China has been redrawing the world's football map in recent months. Thanks to virtually unlimited funds, players and coaches from some of the best European clubs are flocking to China to develop its national league, while football academies are popping up to train future stars. The reason for all this enthusiasm? President Xi Jinping’s penchant for the beautiful game and its potential as a vehicle for Chinese nationalism.

China has just made a stunning entry into the world of football. With high-profile transfers and outrageous salaries, Beijing intends to become a major player, attracting the biggest stars to its football league. Argentina's Carlos Tevez, Brazilian players Givanildo Vieira de Sousa (known as "Hulk") and Oscar as well as Belgium’s Axel Witsel are just some of those who were unable to resist the appeal of the Chinese Super League clubs and their wealthy owners.

This craze can be partly explained by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s taste for the beautiful game, with the Chinese leader making the sport a national priority. His goal is twofold: to make China a football superpower and to use it as a vehicle for Chinese nationalism.

The country is aiming high. China hopes someday to host the FIFA World Cup and even dreams of becoming a world champion in 2050. From Shanghai to Guangzhou, our reporter went to find out more about this new tool of Chinese soft power.

By Antoine VÉDEILHÉ

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2017-07-21 Asia-pacific

Video: Afghans live in fear as kidnappings soar

Last year, more than 300 people were kidnapped in Afghanistan. Although abductions of foreigners by the Taliban tend to make the headlines, more than 90% of the victims are in...

Read more

2017-07-13 Middle East

Exclusive: Storming Raqqa, IS group's cursed capital in Syria

The city of Raqqa in northern Syria has been held by the Islamic State group since early 2014. But the terror group's Syrian headquarters is on the verge of liberation. Snipers...

Read more

2017-07-07 European Union

Poland’s love-hate relationship with the EU

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, is a maverick. On civil rights, justice and the environment, Poland is increasingly breaking away from EU...

Read more

2017-06-30 Saudi Arabia

Women in Saudi Arabia: A long road to equality

In Saudi Arabia, women are considered second-class citizens. They cannot drive or travel without the authorisation of a male guardian: a brother, father, cousin or even a son....

Read more