Visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday watched a soccer match between Chinese and German youth teams at the Olympiastadion Berlin, encouraging young players to foster friendship, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Thursday.
After the match, Xi said that China and Germany are advancing soccer ties and that it is a systematic project to improve soccer skills.
China is willing to push for all-round soccer cooperation with Germany, Xi said, adding the two countries will benefit from the cooperation.
Exchanges between German and Chinese people in soccer will most likely promote understanding of both countries' cultures, people and challenges, Ozcan Mutlu, a member of Germany's federal parliament and spokesperson for education and sports, told the Global Times.
Soccer helps children and young adults develop confidence and maturity, and become team players, Mutlu elaborated.
China's soccer reform, which began in February 2015, is being led by Xi himself, as the president is reportedly an avid soccer fan.
In November 2016, soccer associations of both countries signed a five-year deal that will see German players, coaches and referees provide assistance to their Chinese counterparts, Beijing-based China Global Television Network reported.
The first Chinese-German Football Summit was held in Frankfurt, Germany on Friday, according to a statement from the website of the Chinese Football Association.
"The Sino-German soccer cooperation is mainly focused on developing young players, which Germany did very well after its slump in 2000," Wang Dazhao, a Beijing-based football commentator, told the Global Times on Thursday.
German soccer giant Bayern Munich, one of the world's best known soccer clubs, has signed deals to jointly build soccer schools in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province and Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, China Radio International reported on Wednesday.
Bayern Munich coaches are sent to the schools to train young Chinese players.
China's Ministry of Education (MOE), the German Football Association and adidas on Wednesday kicked off the first-ever MOE youth soccer training camp in Germany.
The week-long camp marks a major step forward in efforts by the three parties to provide world-class training to some of China's top youth talent, adidas told the Global Times on Thursday.
This article was originally published by Shan Jie and Zhang Xin in The Global Times.