China will kick up football talent development with the Ministry of Education planning 20,000 primary or middle schools with a football specialty by 2017.
The MOE will also choose 30 counties to build as trial areas for school football, saying that the move is aimed to improve the popularity of football in Chinese schools, and lay the foundation for more talented football players.
One tenth of those schools will be senior schools, three tenth junior schools and six tenth primary schools. Vocational schools will also be considered, the MOE said.
The ministry said schools with football as specialties will enjoy policy support in teaching, training, competitions, enrollment, funds and other fields. The performance of those schools and counties will also be used to evaluate the performance of local government in education.
The MOE said the move will also promote the construction of P.E. courses and facilities, and ensure that students have at least one hour for sports in schools.
The move came in response to the shameful performance by China's national football team in recent years. Chinese football fans were angry the national team missed the World Cup for the past 12 years.
However, China appeared to be a dark horse in the ongoing Asian Cup in Australia, winning Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan in Group B and sweeping into the quarterfinals.