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12/11/2009 China-- which has been storming ahead dramatically over the past decade, has one glaring Achilles heel: football. It claims to have invented the game, way back in the Han dynasty (206BC to 220 AD), when men and women in long robes first began kicking a stitched leather ball around. Today the modern version has more fans in China – one-quarter of its 1.3 billion population follow the game – than in any other country in the world.

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