After the approval of the "over-all soccer reform plan" on Friday, Feb. 27, news has been circulating that the long-dreamt-of China-hosted World Cup will soon become a reality.
In addition to hosting top international tennis, golf and motor racing events each year, high-profile competitions such as the 2008 Summer Olympic Games and the 2011 FINA World Aquatics Championships will be followed by the World Athletics Championships later this year and - possibly - the 2022 Winter Games, depending on the IOC's vote in July.
But the FIFA World Cup is another matter entirely.
Much has been made of Chinese President Xi Jinping's three wishes for Chinese soccer, namely qualifying for, hosting and winning a World Cup, but it will be many years before any of these three things happen.
Only the most deluded patriot - and certainly no one who claims to be a soccer fan - would predict that China will win a World Cup in their lifetime. But what of the other two wishes?
recent discussion has focused on China hosting a future World Cup, an eventuality that would also see the Chinese team qualify by default. Respected international publications have highlighted the link between China's Wanda Group and its new acquisition of sports marketing firm Infront, which just happens to be run by the nephew of FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
But the earliest China could conceivably bid for the World Cup under FIFA's bidding rules would be the 2034 edition, by which point Blatter - and his influence - would be long gone.
"It will probably hasten China's race for a World Cup," Ding Changbao, chair of the Football Association of Zhidan, stated. Zhidan is a city in Shaanxi Province, northwest China.
Jilin sports chief Song Jixin believed that winning a World Cup bid could bring a lot of benefits "in many aspects" to China.
Song pointed out that "apart from making profits, staging the World Cup will be a great boost to Chinese soccer."
Shoring up Song's analysis, Beijing Institute of Social Sciences' Sports Culture director Jin Shan said: "Japan and South Korea set a good example for China as the jointly held 2002 World Cup helped raise the standard of their own game."
Gregorio Manzano, the head coach of the Chinese Super League side Beijing Guo'an, is confident that the country's soccer team will be able to put up a good match, citing that hosting a World Cup could all the more improve the players' performance.
"China should not wait any longer to bid for the World Cup. Hosting a World Cup will be a good chance to improve Chinese soccer," he said.
The Spanish national who had brought success in some Spain-based clubs emphasized that "the most important thing is participating."
Original title by Yibada:China-Hosted World Cup Dream Soon to Be a Reality?
Original title by Mark Dreyer:China must play long game to achieve Xi’s three World Cup goals