Interview: Soccer brings Uruguay, China closer

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, October 14, 2020
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MONTEVIDEO, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- Diplomacy in soccer is bringing Uruguay and China closer, with the promise of benefits for both countries, said Uruguayan international relations expert Lucia Fajardo, who expects soccer to improve the export of her nation's products to the Chinese market.

Fajardo, who holds a master's degree from Xiamen University in China's Fujian Province, told Xinhua in a recent interview that the grassroots structure of Uruguayan children's soccer, as well as the experience and passion of its coaches, are elements that the South American country could share with China.

"When you say 'Uruguay' in the Chinese language, if the person knows anything about soccer, he would tell you that 'it's very good'," she said, adding that the country is also well-known for its meat industry.

Fajardo said that after the Uruguayan national soccer team placed fourth in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the Uruguayan meat industry became a sponsor of the team.

The expert stated that Uruguay, who has been the soccer world champion twice and has won the continental championship 15 times, is using soccer to improve its relationship with China, its largest commercial partner.

Cooperation agreements have allowed hundreds of Uruguayan athletes to be trained in high-performance centers in China, a country that has also donated sports equipment to Uruguay.

The South American nation in turn has sent coaches to soccer schools in China and also hosts Chinese youth teams.

The first of these schools recently opened in Tangshan, Hebei Province, while another will soon open in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Although Uruguay has a small population of around 3.4 million and its local league is small, its clubs have the potential to follow in the footsteps of European teams that have made sports agreements with China.

The Nacional and Penarol football clubs, both of whom have won continental championships several times, have traveled to China, but no Uruguayan club has a fixed office in the Asian country as yet.

"The Bundesliga (German soccer league) has eight or nine clubs with fixed offices in China. That gives them an advantage in developing these projects," Fajardo said.

According to Fajardo, the Latin American country needs a greater permanent presence in China and soccer could play a major role.

Fajardo is currently working on her doctorate, focusing on the involvement of families in children's soccer in both countries. Enditem

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