NPR

China And Brazil Woo Each Other With Soccer Power

Each year Chinese youth teams send members to a Brazilian academy for 10 months of soccer coupled with regular school lessons, including classes in Portuguese.
Clothes and shoes in the locker room at Desportivo Brasil. Source: Patrícia Monteiro for NPR

A game of soccer is underway beneath a hazy afternoon sun.

At first glance, it looks like any other you might encounter in Brazil, a nation celebrated for its unwavering addiction to this sport.

A group of teenage boys in brightly colored shirts battles for the ball, urged on by a coach who is barking instructions with the ferocity of a drill sergeant.

Look again, though, and you soon spot a difference: Not one of these young and skillful players is Brazilian. They are all Chinese.

China is engaged in a massive drive to try to extend its "soft power" across Latin America by investing heavily on multiple fronts, from oil and gas to as Brazilians call it — is part of the mix.

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