BEIJING: The Chinese Football Association has rushed in new regulations to limit the number of player imports amid increasing concerns about excessive spending on over-valued foreign players.

The CFA said in a statement that clubs in the top-tier Super League (CSL) and China League One will be limited to fielding a maximum of three foreign players per game for the 2017 season.

For the past few seasons, a ‘3+1’ rule has been utilised, meaning clubs could field three foreigners plus a fourth player from another Asian country at any one time. A fifth foreigner could be named on the bench and introduced into the play, as long as the 3+1 rule was adhered to.

Previously tghe CFA and clubs had agreed to retain the 3+1 rule for the 2017 season but restrict clubs from naming their fifth foreign player on the bench. The agreement was intended to transition into 2018 when teams would be limited to four foreign players, instead of five.

However, the latest announcement follows government pressure.

Earlier this month, a spokesman for China’s General Administration of Sport (GAS) stated his belief that salary caps should be introduced to limit escalating spending by clubs.

The official also reportedly urged authorities to set up special funds to help develop homegrown talent in a move that would reduce the need for clubs to buy overseas talent.

China’s President, Xi Jinping, is an avid football fan who is keen to develop the sport in the country and Super League clubs have invested heavily in marquee signings in recent months in a bid to raise the league’s profile.

Brazilian international Oscar this month became the latest star name to make the move to China when joining Shanghai SIPG from English Premier League side Chelsea in a £52m deal making him among the highest-paid players in world football on £500,000-a-week.

Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel and Argentinian striker Carlos Tevez are other high-profile names to have moved to China in recent weeks, with the pair having joined Tianjin Quanjian and Shanghai Shenhua respectively.

The transfer activity has drawn criticism from state news agency Xinhua, which has accused clubs of “burning money” on foreign stars instead of investing in homegrown talent.

The CFA today said that clubs will still be able to register five foreign players in their overall squad, but not all will be able to be used in any one game. Teams will also have to include two younger domestic players born in or after 1994 in their match day squad, one of whom will have to start the game.

The CFA statement read: “The FA will roll out a series of measures to regulate the operation and management of clubs in terms of irrational investment, and high transfer fees and wages for domestic and international players.”

It added: “Third party audits, the development of club financial standards and many other supporting work to promote clubs to achieve an independent and healthy operation and enhance their management and operational capabilities will ensure long-term stable development of the professional league allowing Chinese football to make a positive contribution.”


16th January 2017
Chinese FA tightens rules on foreign imports

The Chinese Football Association (CFA) has today (Monday) confirmed the introduction of new regulations that will further limit the number of overseas players able to appear in domestic matches, amid concerns that clubs are over-spending on importing talent. … [read more]

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