On Wednesday, the Chinese Football Association (CFA) announced that an agreement had been reached for their Under-20 national team to play in Germany’s fourth division.
Only 19 teams were qualified to play in Germany’s south-western division (Regionalliga Suedwest), one of the five regional divisions in the fourth tier of German set-up. The Chinese side inclusion will round-up the number to 20.
According to a report by a German sports news agency, China’s Under-20 will begin playing in the second half of the upcoming season, from January onwards but their results will not count in the league table.
China aiming for football glory
The move is part of an effort to end years of China’s underachievement in football. "For the Chinese men's Under-20 team to be able to train in Germany and to compete in the Regionalliga Suedwest, it's an important opportunity for Chinese football to learn from German football," stated the Chinese national side.
China’s government, led by football fan President Xi Jinping, wants to host and challenge for the World Cup one day, but in order to do so, football authorities first need to target success at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. There are growing rumors that China will bid to host the 2030 or 2034 World Cups.
German ultras plan China protests
In Germany, however, the announcement has not gone down well with some teams and fans. Three teams: Koblenz, Mannheim and Stuttgarter Kickers, stated that they will not play against Chinese Under-20s.
Furthermore, an Ultras group has been set up on Facebook for the China Under 20s side, however, they will not be supporting the team, but protesting their inclusion in the German league. THey also intend to raise funds by selling merchandise and send the money to a Tibetan fund, in a bid to annoy the Chinese authorities.