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FC Barcelona to build Chinese version of La Masia academy

by Matthew Campelli | 06 Mar 2017

FC Barcelona is aiming to capitalise on the growing thirst for football in China by developing a training academy in the mould of its legendary La Masia in Haikou.

The Spanish football giant has formed a partnership with Mission Hills Group, which builds golf resorts, to develop its 26th overseas academy.

With seven pitches, the facility will be able to accommodate 1,000 boys and girls aged six to 18-years-old.

For the first time, Barcelona will despatch its own staff to operate the centre.

A 7,000sq m (75,300sq ft) Barcelona Experience centre – featuring exhibits and merchandise centres - will be built adjacent to the training facility.

The move to break ground on the facility comes following several assertions by the Chinese government that it intends to make the nation a football superpower, with plans to build 50,000 football academies by 2025 with a view to hosting and winning the FIFA World Cup.

Barcelona’s La Masia academy was famed for unearthing World Cup winners Andres Iniesta and Xavi, as well as cultivating Lionel Messi – widely recognised as the best footballer on the planet.

Josep Maria Bartomeu, FC Barcelona president, said there would be a “big difference from other football academies in China” because it will be a long-term project “that lasts for 10 years, even 20 years”.

“More and more European players have come to play in the Chinese Super League, but by improving youth training, hopefully we can have more homegrown talent playing in the Super League and even European leagues,” he added.

Haikou, in the island province of Hainan, has been described as an ideal location for the development.

The provincial government of Hainan has earmarked the sports industry as one of its 12 key industries as part of its recently-published five-year plan.

Private investment in the development of football-related industries is also being encouraged by local government.

This is not the first time Barcelona has inspired football infrastructure in China. In January, Chinese Super League club Hebei China Fortune (CFFC) unveiled plans to create one of the country’s "biggest and best" training facilities in Hebei Province, which has been designed to emulate "the youth training echelon of FC Barcelona.”

The architects behind that project, Populous, have reached a deal with Alisport – the sports arm of Chinese global trade platform Alibaba – to design much of China’s sporting and football infrastructure, which will include renovating existing facilities and building new ones.

An architect for the La Masia in Haikou has yet to be announced.

FC Barcelona  Mission Hills Group  China  football 
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FC Barcelona is aiming to capitalise on the growing thirst for football in China by developing a training academy in the mould of its legendary La Masia in Haikou. The Spanish football giant has formed a partnership with Mission Hills Group, which builds golf resorts, to develop its 26th overseas academy. With seven pitches, the facility will be able to accommodate 1,000 boys and girls aged six to 18-years-old. For
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The Chinese government will hope the centre will unearth talent of equivalent quality to Xavi, who graduated through La Masia / Shutterstock.com
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