Ronaldinho attends the 2017 NBA All-Star Game at Smoothie King Center on February 19, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images/AFP
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Ronaldinho launched a Barcelona academy for about 1,000 students in China Friday as the world's most populous nation pursues its grand ambitions in the world's most popular sport.The academy, which will also serve as a training centre for China's national team and top clubs, is one of tens of thousands of facilities expected in the coming years as China strives to become a football superpower.China, whose national team is wallowing at 86th in the world rankings, plans to have 50,000 academies and football-focused schools by 2025, the education ministry said this week.Despite its 1.3 billion population, China punches well below its weight in football, reaching the World Cup only once in its history -- in 2002, when the team lost all three group games without scoring a goal.
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