Football: Brazil icon Ronaldo to help China upgrade game by opening 30 football schools

Brazilian football legend Ronaldo will be opening 30 new football schools in China.
Brazilian football legend Ronaldo will be opening 30 new football schools in China.PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - Brazilian great Ronaldo will launch 30 football schools in China, the three-time Fifa World Player of the Year said on Tuesday, as the Asians continue with ambitious reforms to make themselves world-beaters.

The franchises will be mainly in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, with the former Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan striker expected to be present when the first opens in the Chinese capital in November.

The move comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping, a fan who is pushing for the country to host the World Cup finals one day, attempts to resurrect the image of the sport at home after years of corruption in the past.

The revamp has gathered pace with the Chinese Super League experiencing a boom in investment by local businessmen with several Brazilian internationals, like Robinho and Diego Tardelli, joining top flight clubs.

Ronaldo, 39, who won two World Cups with Brazil, said the speed of development and Xi's ambition had been factors behind his move.

"Besides business factor, the major reason for me to open soccer school in China is because there are lots of soccer fans and players in the country, and Chinese government and civil organisation also focus on soccer development," Ronaldo told Xinhua news.

"I hope my method of soccer training could help develop Chinese soccer. I think Chinese soccer has the mass base and determination but it may still lack the proper concept and training method."

Part of the government's ambitious goals included boosting the standard of the men's and women's national teams.

While the women were knocked out at the quarter-finals of the World Cup earlier this year, the men have competed at the finals only once in 2002.

They lost all three group games, including a 4-0 defeat by Brazil with Ronaldo completing the scoring.