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China State Council to launch new initiatives to decentralise sports industries

The Chinese government will put greater emphasis on bolstering the sports industry and enhancing sport and fitness consumption as part of an effort to raise living standards. This was decided at a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang recently.

According to China Daily, Li said: “Fitness and sports consumption is a new growth area that comes to the fore as the economy develops to a certain stage. China is still much behind developed countries in this regard, yet our people’s wish and demand for such consumption have been steadily increasing. Fitness and sports consumption should also be advanced in tandem with enhancing the fitness of the people.”

The meeting also discussed measures to decentralise China’s sport industry, with sporting events that are currently hosted by national sports associations, to be run by private-sector organisations instead. The construction of sports facilities will be left up to an open tender process, and the operations of government-invested, newly-constructed sports venues will be handed over to private companies for management.

The State Council also announced that more public sports facilities will also be opened, targeting different age demographics, in an attempt to improve public health levels.

This push for decentralisation in Chinese sports was mirrored by comments made by newly-appointed Chinese Football Association chairman Chen Xuyuan, who said his first move would be to focus on making the Chinese Super League run independently, as it is currently managed directly by the CFA. His vision is for the CSL to operate like the English Premier League or Spain’s LaLiga, where member clubs are shareholders, with the CFA instead functioning as a supervisory party.

Chen said: “I think in the future, the CSL and the CFA will be partners. As long as we make the rules clear, there won’t be much conflict between the two and our professional leagues will be able to develop themselves better.”