REUTERS - Barcelona will open a soccer academy in southern China this year in partnership with local developer Mission Hills Group, the La Liga club said on Friday.
The academy, to be based in Haikou, capital of the island province of Hainan, will have seven football pitches and eventually the capacity to enrol 1,000 children between six and 18 years old, the club said in a joint media release.
"The FCBEscola in Haikou will be staffed by FCB coaches and will follow the same training methods used by the FCB youth teams," the release said.
"The school opens its doors to its first students this summer, with its first full season training beginning in September."
The tie-up with Hong Kong-headquartered Mission Hills, which runs the world's largest golf complex located outside the southern city of Shenzhen in Guangdong province, would also include an "interactive FC Barcelona experience area" at a new tourism and leisure development in Haikou.
A number of foreign clubs and companies have sought to leverage off China's ambitions of becoming a global power in world football.
Sportswear maker Adidas signed a deal with China's education ministry in 2015 to develop a soccer programme for 20,000 primary and middle schools and train 50,000 teachers.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford