China’s mens soccer team is currently ranked 81 in the world, but President Xi has plans to change that. Beijing’s State-Council recently announced a plan to construct tens of thousands of fields to guarantee that 50,000 schools across the country offer soccer instruction. In addition, China will bid to host the next available World Cup. All this is being done in an effort to “win glories for the nation,” as well as boost consumption.
However, hosting a major sports event such as the World Cup has uncertain economic effects. What is certain is inflation and public debt, neither of which China needs any more. Even still, Xi has ordered the creation of a working group whose goal is to reform and promote the Chinese game. Many perceive this as merely a stunt for the Xi to present himself as a man of the people, while others believe this will harness China’s hidden interest in soccer due to the nation’s embarrassing track record. Still, it remains to be seen how this will affect an economy that is desperately trying to shift from being production to consumption based.