China is to overhaul its soccer authorities in an effort to qualify for the World Cup within a decade and be seen as a potential host for the competition. At the heart of the plan is separating the Chinese Football Association (CFA) from the government sports regulator, the General Administration for Sport. The CFA will become a fully independent, non-profit organisation overseeing the development of soccer and will have the power to reject "unreasonable government interventions", according to a central government directive published yesterday. The central government also plans to step up financial support for the national team and the sport in general. Its key initiatives include establishing a national lottery based on Chinese soccer leagues, with revenue going towards development of the sport, and building 50,000 soccer schools by 2025. The directive follows a high-level meeting on February 27 chaired by President Xi Jinping with the aim of revamping Chinese soccer. Xi has three goals: qualifying, hosting and winning the World Cup. Many fans are embarrassed by the national team, with the country's increasing geopolitical influence not matched by its lowly world soccer ranking - Fifa ranks China at No 83, between Guatemala and Angola. Chairman of the Hong Kong Football Association Brian Leung Hung-tak said he was impressed by the reform plan. "These are very positive measures and if all the proposed contents can be properly executed, there will be a bright future for the sport," said Leung, who spoke to the Chinese Football Association vice-chairman Lin Xiaohua in Beijing last week. "I know they are very determined this time because soccer development has become a national policy. The sport has been on the right track since the authorities cleaned it up a couple of years ago by jailing a number of officials and referees for match-fixing and accepting bribes. "But many of the fans on the mainland are still not happy with the performance of the national team. One of the targets of the reform is to raise the standard of Team China so that they can reach the highest level in Asia. The ultimate goal is to qualify for the World Cup finals." The government hopes that with more funds and new facilities, the national team can qualify before the 2026 World Cup. In that period, the country will seek to host top international games on its way to bidding to host the competition. If Qatar 2022 goes ahead, Fifa rules exclude any Asian country from bidding for the 2026 or 2030 competition.