Top Chinese club phase out foreign players
China's top football team has pledged to phase out foreign players after the government called on clubs to stop 'burning money' on 'irrational' international transfers, amid a wider crackdown on capital outflows.
Guanzhou Evergrande, winner of the Chinese Super League (CSL) for the last six seasons, led the way in the importation of foreign talent. They spent several hundred million dollars, winning the Asian club championship in 2013 and 2015.
Xu Jiayin, the property tycoon who co-owns the Evergrande club with Ali Baba, Jack Ma's ecommerce group, has said he wants to move towards an 'all Cbinese squad' over the next three years. However, the quality of Chinese players is low and without foreign players Evergrande would be unable to compete in the CSL, let alone the Asian Champions League.
Mr Xu may have another motive. His property group is one of China's most heavily indebted companies with $76bn of borrowings. He said that he wanted to reduce the club's 'relatively serious financial deficit' by curbing investment in players, which has dwarfed the income from ticket sales.
President Xi Jinping wants to make China a competitive football nation that can qualify for and win the World Cup. However, without foreign players, the game may lose its lustre in China and that may in turn discourage youngsters from taking part. China's football policy, to borrow a Marxist phrase, is beset with contradictions.