China under-20s may play in German fourth tier, DFB confirms
China's under-20 team could participate in one of Germany's regional fourth divisions, the German FA (DFB) has said.
Only 19 teams have qualified for the regional southwest division of Germany's fourth tier, and to even out the fixture list the DFB has now invited China's U20 team to join the league.
That would allow China to prepare for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
"All 19 clubs have signalled their consent that the Chinese will take part. I therefore believe that the project is on a good path," Felix Wiedemann, the league's executive, told Bild.
DFB vice-president Ronny Zimmermann also confirmed to kicker that the clubs "have received the idea favourably."
Zimmermann added: "The planned cooperation with China is public, and we of course need good content for it. We need to see if the idea turns into reality. The managers of the southwest division will meet soon and we'd need to have a decision by then because that's when we agree the fixture list."
Bild reported that the project could be officially presented to the public during a state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Berlin on July 5.
According to the reports in the German media, the teams from the regional fourth division would get €15,000 in compensation each from the Chinese FA for the two matches to be played at their home stadium.
While the China U20 team will be part of the regular fixture list, the results from their matches will not be included in the league table.
Wiedemann told The Associated Press: "It's important to say that there will be no points at stake, so it won't influence the outcome of the league."
The concept received support from Stuttgarter Kickers executive Marc-Nicolai Pfeifer.
"It's an outstanding idea. We are looking forward to the two home games and we'll roll out the carpet for China's Olympic XI," Pfeifer told Bild.
In late 2016, China and Germany signed a "comprehensive agreement at government level" to boost the development of football in China, with agreements also struck between the DFB, the German Football League (DFL), the Chinese Ministry of Education and the Chinese Soccer Association.
Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.