Taipei, June 8 (CNA) A friendly soccer match pitting government officials against representatives from Central and South American countries will be held at Gong Guan Elementary School in Taipei Saturday to help promote the sport in Taiwan.
A group of opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers and their ruling Kuomintang colleagues as well as Education Minister Chiang Wei-ling and Sports Affairs Council deputy chief Rosa Chien will take part in the game.
Around 70 percent of the world's population plays what is widely considered to be the world's most popular sport, said DPP Legislator Chiu Chih-wei at a press conference to promote the friendly.
Chiu said it was unfortunate that because of neglect, Taiwan's national team is only ranked 166th internationally (actually 167th in the most recent FIFA rankings), while neighbors Japan and South Korea are ranked 15th (actually 23rd) and 16th (actually 35th) respectively.
In fact, international soccer could become a new international stage on which Taiwan can shine because conditions in Taiwan are similar to those in Japan and South Korea, Chiu said.
DPP Legislator Lee Kun-tse expressed hope that the sport's popularity in Taiwan could pick up through government and private sector assistance because it used to be one of the leading soccer countries in Asia 20 to 30 years ago.
(By Tseng Ying-yu and Maia Huang)