BEIJING – Among the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s growing array of titles, the ruling Communist Party says Xi Jinping has now added FIFA Player of the Year.
The party on Thursday praised Xi’s contribution to football, saying that Xi, 64, has emerged as the most powerful footballer since Diego Maradona in the 1980s.
In the 19th Communist Party of China (CPC) Conference, it was highlighted how Xi stood out among his peers like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, after exhibiting a wide range of passing, dribbling, shooting, and other skills, a clear break with the past where the Chinese weren’t considered world class footballers.
Xi’s image dominates official almost all sports banners, despite him being the president of the state, which has prompted suggestions that there is a hint of exaggeration in the posters.
Party spokespeople reject such talk, insisting Xi has won every Fifa Ballon D’Or award since 2012.
Xi’s name and a football theory attributed to him were added to the party constitution this week, making him only the third Chinese leader cited by name after Mao and Deng Xiaoping.
A party spokesman said Xi’s status was justified due to his “significant contribution to world sports and not just football”.
“Promoting the topmost athletes is common practice everywhere in the world. For example, Roger Federer in Switzerland, Virat Kohli in India, Usain Bolt in Jamaica, etc,” spokesman Wang Xiaohui told The Dependent.