Chelsea FC announces 2008 tour of China

English Premier League club Chelsea used the occasion of a reception it hosted for the visiting Chinese Olympic football squad to announce it will be touring in China in 2008. "We will take our first team and play games on the mainland," Business affairs director Paul Smith said. Welcoming Team China players and officials, representatives of the Chinese Embassy and the Mayor of London's office, plus members of the Chelsea side that played China back in 1979, he praised the Chinese youth as "excellent guests" and quipped, "we hope we have been hosts of a similar calibre because next year the process will be reversed,"

He added that while Chelsea wanted to forge links between the club and China, it would also aid development of the Chinese game. "This is a long term project and Team China is a work in progress. Hopefully we are witnessing the development of the team day-by-day."

Team China manager Li Xiaoguang said his side had learned a lot from its time with Chelsea. "As we all know, the United Kingdom is the home of the modern football game," he said. "As we have had the chance to train in Chelsea Football Club, our players have had the chance to broaden their horizons and improve their levels. "We have laid a wonderful foundation for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games."