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China’s Dreams of Soccer Power Are Making This Developer Rich

  • Country’s biggest builder of soccer complexes is riding high
  • SoccerWorld plans to double number of centers by end of 2017
A young Chinese student balances a soccer ball on his nose near Qingyuan, in Guangdong Province, China.

A young Chinese student balances a soccer ball on his nose near Qingyuan, in Guangdong Province, China.

Photographer: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

When President Xi Jinping made soccer a national priority two years ago, it was clear that he didn’t just want China to become a global powerhouse. He outlined a robust soccer economy, with fields in every county, soccer academies for kids, and fans in every local bar.

Buried in the finer points, Xi called for local governments to “promote the community with the construction of football venues” and for every new residential area to include facilities that can host five-a-side games. Now, says Reeze Fan, who has been building recreational soccer complexes in China since 2008, business is booming.