Chinese players chase their dreams to Portugal
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Gomes said one of Portugal's key advantages was that it had hundreds of competitive clubs spread across a small country whereas in China, which has 32 professional football teams, youngsters faced logistical problems.
"There is usually one club per city in China and, as you know, they are very distant from each other. This means that for there to be a weekly youngsters' championship they would have to start travelling two or three days before each match," he said. "How would they go to school doing this?"
With Portuguese football severely hit by a debt crisis, China's much-welcomed investment in the clubs follows a wider trend of Chinese companies buying into Portuguese ones.
Gomes said that when they signed the initial contract for the first six Chinese players to come to Portugal, it was agreed that local clubs would get 20,000 euros ($26,700) in exchange for their training for one season.
"I will not say how much the clubs receive now but we are indeed supporting them through subsidies to coaches, bonuses for games and helping clubs' finances," Qi Chen, one of the programme heads, told Reuters.
"Sure, there is no country like China when we talk economic growth these days but, football-wise, Portugal is way ahead. That is why we are here."
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