Shandong authorities have refuted media reports which suggested that the province will suspend university basketball and volleyball leagues in order to focus on soccer development, Ming Pao Daily reported.
The media had misinterpreted one of its plans, the Shandong Provincial Education Department was quoted as saying in a statement Thursday.
While soccer will be promoted in line with a national objective, it won’t be done at the expense of college basketball and volleyball leagues, according to the report.
The provincial education department and sports management bureau are still discussing whether to combine the two separate college basketball and volleyball leagues, and colleges will continue to have basketball and volleyball leagues and normal sports training, a spokesperson at the provincial education department is said to have told Global Times, a sister publication of the People’s Daily.
The comments came after some media reports, citing a previous statement released by the department, said earlier this week that provincial authorities will suspend university basketball and volleyball leagues this year while including college soccer in on-campus tournaments.
The department deleted that previous statement from its official website on Thursday, and issued a clarification following a heated debate over the purported decision, according to the Global Times.
Many netizens criticized the authority as being ridiculous and over-enthusiastic in support of the central government’s soccer plan.
The State Council recently unveiled a nationwide soccer reform plan after getting the go-ahead from President Xi Jinping last month.
Revitalizing soccer is a must for building China into a sports powerhouse, according to the plan.
CCTV reported late Thursday that a number of cities are mapping out plans in response the central government proposal.
The Guangzhou municipal government said it will build 100 small soccer courts by the end of 2016, while Chengdu aims to work hand in hand with five other cities, including Wuhan and Dalian, to build a competition platform for soccer lovers, the report said.
Xi is said to be a huge fan of soccer after being a member of a soccer team when in high school.
According to Chinese media, Xi once told visiting representatives from South Korea that his wish is to see China host the Soccer World Cup and for the Chinese team win the championship.
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