Archive for ‘soccer’

17/03/2017

New rules, new dodges: Chinese football clubs are struggling with new curbs on foreign players | The Economist

MUCH grumbling accompanied the start on March 4th of this year’s season of the Chinese Super League (CSL), the uppermost tier of professional football in China. Managers of its 16 clubs have been gnashing their teeth at a change of rules which was suddenly announced just a few weeks before the first matches. Teams are now allowed to field a maximum of three foreigners.The clubs would have preferred more notice. Many of them have only just acquired even more foreign players. All now have at least four, the previous maximum per side in any CSL game. (One of them, a Brazilian called Oscar, is pictured in a CSL match—he was transferred to Shanghai SIPG from Chelsea, an English club, for £60m, or about $75m, in December.)

Last year China spent more than $450m on footballers, the fifth-largest such outlay by any country.

But all this money has not improved the dismal state of Chinese football. The men’s national team ranks 82nd in the world. In October an embarrassing 1-0 defeat to war-torn Syria triggered protests by hundreds of fans in the city of Xi’an where the match was played. Local media say the Chinese Football Association announced its new rules on orders “from above”. They impose a levy on big transfers and demand that one-sixth of clubs’ spending must be on youth training.

Officials have also been trying to curb the buying of stakes in foreign clubs—Chinese investors shelled out about $2bn on them last year. The government says this is part of an economy-wide clampdown on currency outflows. But it also wants to make the point that foreign talent won’t necessarily help China’s. The government has recently scuppered several investment deals. A Chinese consortium bought AC Milan, an Italian club, for $825m in August, but has been unable to move money out of China to complete the purchase.

Rather than simply moaning about the new rules, clubs have been devising ways of dodging them. Teams must now field at least one Chinese player under 23 each week. Some coaches simply replace them early in the game with older hands.

Source: New rules, new dodges: Chinese football clubs are struggling with new curbs on foreign players | The Economist

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23/02/2017

Wayne Rooney: Man Utd captain’s agent in China to discuss potential move – BBC Sport

Wayne Rooney’s agent Paul Stretford is in China to see if he can negotiate a deal for the forward to leave Manchester United.

There are no guarantees of success and it is thought a deal remains highly unlikely before the Chinese transfer window closes on 28 February.

But the fact Stretford has travelled to China is a clear indication United boss Jose Mourinho would let Rooney, 31, go.

And if he does not leave this month it seems certain he will go in the summer.Rooney has fallen down the pecking order at United under Mourinho.

Rooney should stay – Phil Neville

Mourinho not ruling out Rooney exit

Would a China move work for Rooney?

The England captain has been made aware of interest in him from the Chinese Super League for some time, although it is not known which clubs Stretford has spoken to.

Beijing Guoan, believed to be the favourite team of Chinese President Xi, had been seen as one of the favourites to sign Rooney but sources close to the club have told BBC Sport they are not interested in signing him.

Because of new restrictions on overseas players, Jiangsu Suning and Tianjin Quanjian look like the most likely remaining options.

However, the England captain’s representatives have already spoken to Tianjin Quanjian and their coach, Fabio Cannavaro, said talks did not progress.

On Tuesday, Mourinho said he did not know whether Rooney, who has only just returned to training after a hamstring injury, would still be at Old Trafford in a week’s time.

It is not known whether this latest development will affect Rooney’s chances of being involved in Sunday’s EFL Cup final against Southampton.

They had appeared to have increased after Henrikh Mkhitaryan limped out of Wednesday’s 1-0 Europa League win against Saint-Etienne.

If Rooney follows former team-mate Carlos Tevez to the Chinese Super League, it would almost certainly cost him any chance of making the seven appearances he needs to become England’s most capped player.

Rooney’s preference is understood to be to remain with United for the rest of his contract, which expires in 2019, but a lack of time on the pitch is forcing him to consider alternatives.

Rooney is United’s record goalscorer and has won five Premier League titles and a Champions League trophy since joining them as an 18-year-old for £27m from Everton in 2004.

The forward, who has started only three games since 17 December, has said he would not play for an English club other than United or Everton.

The big difference between Chinese Super League clubs’ transfer process and their Premier League counterparts is the preparation.

English top-flight clubs have extensive scouting departments with links around the world. They identify players months in advance, watch many live games and base their decision on an extensive process._94799249_oscar_getty

 

Oscar moved to Shanghai SIPG from Chelsea in a £60m deal in December and scored on his debut for his new club

In CSL, the process is more agent-led. Most of the clubs are approached with recommendations for a position they are recruiting in, rather than seeking out players themselves.

Foreign players coming in on large fees are commanding three-, four-, five-year deals, even at the end of their career. They have the upper hand in negotiations and wouldn’t leave European football without long-term financial guarantees.

However, the Chinese government is concerned about capital leaving the country and it is difficult for these big transactions to exist while they are trying to crack down in other areas.

I think we will see a levelling out in fees. The £15m-£20m transfers will continue to happen for the next few years, but maybe we won’t see the likes of the £60m deal that brought Oscar to China.

Source: Wayne Rooney: Man Utd captain’s agent in China to discuss potential move – BBC Sport

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17/02/2017

Soccer Dreams in China’s Rust Belt – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China’s smog-choked northern province of Hebei is no stranger to lofty goals. For one thing, it has to shut down two-thirds of its steel factories by 2020.

Here comes another: becoming a provincial powerhouse in soccer. Perhaps understandably, it has given itself a few decades to do it.

The “Hebei Province’s Soccer Medium-to-Long Term Development Plan (2016-2050)” unveiled Thursday sets out plans for 1,000 “soccer campuses,” 3,000 amateur leagues and at least one club in the Chinese Super League, the country’s highest tier of professional soccer.

Such plans to pursue the “beautiful game,” as soccer is often called, are quite the departure for China. The world’s second-largest economy used to nurture its sport stars the Soviet way, by picking and grooming its talent from an early age. It still harvests most of its medals using this model. But in soccer, Beijing is trying a looser model perfected in the West: shopping for world-class players world-wide and hoping to spot homegrown talent via a grassroots network of soccer programs in local schools.

“By 2050, we must contribute to China’s bid to host the World Cup,” the Hebei Provincial Sports Bureau said.

At media conferences, officials spoke wistfully of “a soccer tourism route” and “a garden of sports,” a somewhat jarring image of Hebei, which currently produces more than twice the annual steel volume of all U.S. mills combined and is home to China’s smoggiest cities.

In its quest to become a leading purveyor of football talent, Hebei already faces some domestic competition. Fujian province, in China’s south, last month said it also has such plans. Earlier this month, so did the aluminum-producing province of Gansu, known more for its deserts than its dazzling dribbles.

More provinces are likely to follow. The central government last year put out a blueprint detailing bigger, broader goals to mint “two to three first-class soccer teams in Asia, that are internationally known.”

President Xi Jinping has a soft spot for the sport, and in 2011 made known his desire for China to both qualify for and host a World Cup tournament and ultimately to win one.

This has proven difficult. Back-to-back losses last fall all but derailed China’s dream of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. Profligate spending to attract foreign talent led the General Administration of Sport last month to criticize Chinese teams for “burning money” on astronomical recruitment fees and wages, while “neglecting the development of homegrown players.”

Still, Hebei might have an edge. The province, where Mr. Xi spent some time early in his career as a county-level Communist Party official, won government support in a successful bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, despite having only a set of somewhat stumpy mountains with sporadic snow.

Some of the province’s residents aren’t exactly hopeful. “The economy is finished,” one of them wrote on the popular microblogging platform Weibo. “And you still have time to focus on soccer?”

Source: Soccer Dreams in China’s Rust Belt – China Real Time Report – WSJ

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