President Xi's Three Wishes for Chinese Football

This article is an abridged version of a much longer piece written by Matt Tench, the leading UK-based sports journalist and editor. Currently he writes for the i newspaper. Previously he has held senior positions at the Independent, Daily Mail, FourFourTwo magazine and The Observer Sport Monthly.

In the autumn of 2015 the Chinese President Xi Jinping interrupted his five-day state visit to the UK for a remarkable reason. Between the royal banquets, business summits and high-level discussions, he visited an English football club – Manchester City – which was an added surprise because he is believed to be a Manchester United fan.

Looking back, it feels as if his visit will turn out to be the most significant single event in the English Premier League (EPL) last season; greater even than the extraordinary title victory by Leicester City, in only its second season back in the Premiership. It demonstrated to the world that Chinese enthusiasm – not just a simple liking for the game, but a desire to be involved and influential – springs right from the top of the Chinese Government.

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