Chinese FA imposes tax on foreign-player deals

SHANGHAI • The Chinese Football Association (CFA) has stepped up its fight against spiralling big-money deals for foreign players by announcing prohibitive new curbs, less than a month before the next transfer window opens.

The CFA said loss-making clubs who pay a transfer fee for a new player must invest an equivalent amount in a government-run fund set up to develop Chinese youth players and promote football for "the public good".

It also said that starting in the 2018 season, clubs will be required to field an equivalent number of foreign players and Under-23 Chinese players in each game.

The measures are intended to discourage clubs from the "pursuit of short-term results, blindly one-upping each other, high-priced acquisitions, and actions that drive up prices", the CFA said in a statement released late on Wednesday.

The moves follow rocketing deals which reportedly put Ezequiel Lavezzi and Carlos Tevez among the world's best-paid players, and saw Chinese clubs smash the Asian transfer record five times within 12 months.

President Xi Jinping has said he wants to see China host and eventually win a World Cup, a big ask for a national side who consistently punch below their weight and are ranked 81st in the world.

But the top companies and wealthy entrepreneurs who own Chinese clubs have answered Xi's call by rushing to buy stakes in overseas clubs and to import foreign players in a series of high-profile signings.

In the latest Asian-record transfer, Chelsea midfielder Oscar moved to Shanghai SIPG for €60 million (S$93 million) as Chinese clubs splashed a record €388 million in the January-February transfer window.

The Chinese Super League had a combined revenue of 1.5 billion yuan (S$302.5 million) last year, according to news agency Xinhua.

Those receipts were dwarfed by the US$450 million (S$623.2 million) spent on recruiting foreign talent the same year.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 26, 2017, with the headline 'Chinese FA imposes tax on foreign-player deals'. Print Edition | Subscribe