Headed by the deputy mayor Liu Shunni, a delegation from the Chinese city of Wuhan, which is home to nine million people and hosted several matches at the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup, visited Zurich on Thursday.
Arriving from Russia via Geneva, the Chinese party had the opportunity to meet FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and were also given a tour of the governing body's headquarters, prompting Shunni to declare, "You came to Wuhan last year, and ever since you left people have been asking when you will come back."
In their meeting with the FIFA President, the delegation revealed how football is developing in China and how the women's game is progressing at a faster pace than the men's. "Football is an excellent sport for bringing communities together and for educating young people," commented the deputy mayor, while Blatter added, "It is a sport of discipline and respect and it also embodies a sense of fighting spirit. These are all important values for youngsters."
Fu Xiang, a well-known former player from Wuhan province and now the general secretary of the regional football association, commented on the steps they are taking to bring the game on. "We have set up a programme involving 138 schools, who are taking part in a tournament based on official FIFA regulations. It is a mixed competition open to all children under the age of 15."
Before departing to catch the plane home, the delegation invited Blatter to return to Wuhan. In expressing his delight at the proposal, the FIFA President pointed to "the friendship that binds Wuhan, FIFA and myself on a personal level."