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China under-20 football team to play in German league

Beijing (AFP) – China’s Under-20 team will play matches in the fourth tier of German football this season as part of a drive to ramp up the fortunes of the much-maligned national side.

China’s Communist government, led by football fan President Xi Jinping, is throwing money at the sport in hopes of ending years of national underachievement.

Xi wants China to host and challenge for the World Cup one day, but before that Chinese football bosses are targeting success at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

As part of the all-out effort, Chinese football authorities have been forging links with reigning world champions Germany and on Wednesday said the Under-20 side will compete in the German fourth tier.

“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,” the Chinese national side said in a statement.

The statement was issued after the Chinese and German football associations signed an agreement in Beijing.

The state-owned China News said the Chinese side’s results will not count in the league placings.

The Under-20 team will begin playing in the second half of the season, from January onwards, according to a report by German sports news agency SID, an AFP subsidiary.

China’s senior national team has long been an embarrassment to the country and are currently ranked down in 77th in the FIFA world rankings.

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