China to host new international tournament to boost national side
Chinese real estate, entertainment and sports conglomerate Wanda says it will host an annual "China Cup" tournament, which will begin next year and feature four national teams.
Wanda on Wednesday said it had reached agreement with FIFA, soccer's world governing body, for the China Cup to be an officially recognised tournament -- meaning results would count toward the FIFA World Ranking.
Wanda said it would invite "first-class national teams from Europe and the Americas," so that the Chinese team would learn from playing against high-quality opposition.
Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin added: "We aim to become the best football competition in Asia. We will use all possible measures to ensure we achieve this."
Under President Xi Jinping's direction, China's entrepreneurs and public sector have been investing heavily in the domestic league in a bid to strengthen the national team, which is currently 81st in the FIFA ranking.
Yu Hongchen, vice president of the Chinese Football Association, said: "We are duty-bound as people in the football industry, as members of the Chinese Football Association, to vigorously develop Chinese football.
"This is our responsibility and it is also the demand of the times."
In April, the Chinese FA had announced plans to transform the country into a world football power by 2050.