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BARCELONA (Reuters) - FC Barcelona have signed an agreement with Chinese company Mission Hills Group (MHG) to launch a football school in the China that the Spanish outfit will manage directly.
Based in Haikou, capital of the island province of Hainan, the school will open in September and will have seven football pitches. It will accommodate as many as 1,000 children.
"The two parties have put pen to paper on an agreement that will bring them together for the next 10 years, with the possibility of extending it for a further 10 more years," a club statement said.
"With this agreement the two parties will build the first FCB school managed completely by the club."
Barcelona have 25 other FCB schools throughout the world, including one in Guatemala which will open next month. But China's will be the only one to boast a "Barca experience area" including a megastore, an interactive space that details the history of the club and a catering zone.
"For China, it will be a step forward in football," Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu said on his club's website. "We have chosen China because it is an incredible country and the future is here.
"The Chinese government is planning to promote football, to create players and wants to introduce football to society as a very important sport.
"The Chinese population is warming more and more to football. And why should Barca not help to create this dream driven by the Chinese government? We believe it will be very successful."
MHG vice-president Tenniel Chu told Barcelona's website: "It's an honour to have this strategic partner to help grow football in China and globally."
Reporting by Adriana Garcia; Editing by Andrew Roche