FC Cologne scraps China football academy

FRANKFURT: German Bundesliga club FC Cologne has pulled out of a football academy in China, with one senior official saying “human rights are massively disrespected” in the country.Cologne had been slated to run the school for young footballers in Shenyang, northeast China, for 1.8 million euros ($2.0 million). Club president Werner Wolf said in a statement on Wednesday “we have decided not to continue the project... due to the current sporting situation,” saying a reevaluation of “resources and priorities” were behind the move.“Other forms of possible co-operation, for example sponsoring from Chinese companies, hasn’t been ruled out,” he added. But Stefan Mueller-Roemer, a former club president and now head of the fan council, told local newspaper Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger that “we don’t need China in sport.”The academy was part of a 2016 deal between the German and Chinese governments and was to continue until 2021, focusing on knowledge transfer between the two countries.Club chief Wolf said Mueller-Roemer’s comments were a “private opinion” that did not reflect the stance of the side, whose home city is twinned with Chinese capital Beijing.Cologne’s decision to cancel the China venture follows a media storm around German Arsenal player Mesut Ozil, who harshly criticised China’s crackdown on Uighur Muslim minorities in the western region of Xinjiang.

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