China will cut 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, the country’s football authority has announced.
Clubs in the mega-rich Chinese Super League (CSL) have splashed out more than US$400 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 association also stipulated that 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 football association 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 US$73.7 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 US$58.3 million in July.
The new rules will take effect when the 2017 season starts in March and will “promote the long-term development of every club within the professional league,” the football association 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 (US$1.15 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 Argentine forward Carlos Tevez reportedly considering an US$87.8 million offer to join Shanghai Shenhua.