- Associated Press - Monday, August 17, 2015

BEIJING (AP) - The Chinese soccer association is gaining more independence in the hopes that it can better promote the sport in the world’s most populous country.

China’s General Administration of Sports said Monday that it is removing the national federation from its organizational chart, freeing it from government bureaucracy so it will have more latitude in making decisions, such as those related to expenditures, activities and personnel management.

Critics have long said that the association, which oversees training, soccer leagues and the national team, has had its hands tied up by onerous rules on government entities.

Members of the Chinese public have for decades lamented on the poor performances of the national team, a chronic problem that has even caught the attention of Chinese President Xi Jinping, believed to be an avid fan.

A top-level work team on deepening China’s reforms, as led by Xi himself, in February approved plans to reform the sport in China. It said to make China a strong soccer country is consistent with the Chinese dream for revival.

The decoupling of the soccer association from the government is widely seen as a crucial step to inject more autonomy into the sport.

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