Football: China to cut club quota for foreign players to four to cool transfer market

Clubs in the mega-rich Chinese Super League have splashed out more than US$400 million (S$579 million) on domestic and foreign players this year, including €70.5 million (S$106.7 million) for Chelsea forward Oscar, who will make the move to Shangha
Clubs in the mega-rich Chinese Super League have splashed out more than US$400 million (S$579 million) on domestic and foreign players this year, including €70.5 million (S$106.7 million) for Chelsea forward Oscar, who will make the move to Shanghai SIPG in January.PHOTO: EPA

BEIJING (AFP) - China will lower the number of overseas players allowed on domestic teams from five to four in an effort to cool the red-hot market for foreign talent, its football authority said.

Clubs in the mega-rich Chinese Super League have splashed out more than US$400 million (S$579 million) on domestic and foreign players this year after President Xi Jinping laid out his vision of turning the country into a football powerhouse.

The new restrictions on the number of foreign players allowed on club rosters was announced on Friday by the Chinese Football Association, the sport's governing body in China.

The CFA said only three foreigners from the same team would be allowed to play at any one time, according to a statement posted on the official social media account of the state-run Soccer Newspaper.

"High-level foreign players have brought energy to the CSL and made CSL games more enjoyable, but they've created financial burdens for clubs and reduced opportunities for mainland players," the CFA said.

The new rules come a week before the CSL transfer window opens and a day after Shanghai SIPG club confirmed it had signed Chelsea's Oscar for a reported €70.5 million (S$106.7 million).

Chinese teams broke the Asian record for the most expensive signings three times in just 10 days in the January-February transfer window, and moved it still higher when Brazil's Hulk joined SIPG for €55.8 million in July.

The new rules would take effect when the 2017 season started in March and would "promote the long-term development of every club within the professional league", the CFA said.

The official People's Daily warned last week that the explosive growth in Chinese football spending was a bubble, noting the eight billion yuan (S$1.67 billion) in overall spending this year "far exceeded the economic value brought to the league".

But the huge outlay on players shows no sign of easing, with Argentinian forward Carlos Tevez reportedly considering an €84 million offer to join Shanghai Shenhua.