Shake-up will put Chinese youth development first

TOKYO • Chinese football authorities are set to impose strict new regulations on the country's clubs, using the threat of losing their professional licences as a spur to establish a more comprehensive youth development programme.

According to Titan Sports, the Chinese Football Association (CFA) will introduce rules in 2019 that force clubs in the top two tiers of the domestic league to create youth teams ranging from the Under-13 bracket up to the Under-19 level.

The teams would play in competitions organised by the CFA and a failure to comply would see clubs forfeit their registration to play professionally.

The CFA have yet to respond to a Reuters request for a comment on the matter.

The move marks the latest CFA directive to enhance the future prospects of the Chinese national team, who have struggled to make an international impact in the last decade and a half.

Bora Milutinovic took China to their only World Cup appearance in 2002, before an Arie Haan-coached team reached the final of the Asian Cup on home soil two years later.

Since then, China have struggled, with the number of youths in the country playing the game diminishing as a number of factors, including match-fixing scandals, blighted the sport's progress.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2017, with the headline 'Shake-up will put Chinese youth development first'. Print Edition | Subscribe