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Chelsea agree "historic" deal to back Chinese soccer

Written by: Staff
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QINGDAO, China, Apr 25 (Reuters) English champions Chelsea agreed today to give their exclusive backing to an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) project to develop grass-roots football in the world's most populous country.

Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon and AFC President Mohamed bin Hammam signed a memorandum of understanding that will result in the London club providing technical and financial assistance to the Vision China development programme.

''It's an historic moment because this is the first time a club came to us and said 'take' and did not take from us,'' Bin Hammam told reporters. ''This is what we appreciate.'' Kenyon, who has identified China and North America as Chelsea's key markets outside England, said it was the start of a ''long-term relationship''.

REUTERS DH KP1259

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