Fresh off making their 2017 China Sources list, this is my debut China Sports column for SupChina, which you can read in full here. Below is a summary of what went on this week.
Late on Wednesday night, the Chinese Football Association (CFA) released details of two new rules that the Chinese Super League (CSL) must follow. Both rules are significant and have immediate consequences, not just for Chinese football, but for the global transfer market. Let’s break down the what and the why of Chinese football’s latest brainwaves, before examining what consequences are likely.
The CSL’s summer transfer window saw yet another record fee paid, as more international players arrived in China, but the league’s top scorer, Demba Ba, is looking at months on the sidelines after a bad leg break.
It is a measure of how much the pulling power of the Chinese Super League (CSL) has exploded over the past year that the summer transfer window, which closed last week, contained a handful of blockbuster deals, but was still considered quieter than expected.
After a breathless few weeks during which the entire sporting world has been talking about Chinese football (with yours truly quoted by AFP three times, FT twice, El Pais, Hicimos, Vice Sports and interviewed by CCTV, BBC and Al Jazeera among others), let’s take a look at a few stories that could be cropping up over the next 12 months…
Diego Armando Maradona, the scourge of English soccer fans and the Italian taxman, has just achieved perhaps one of the greatest accomplishments of his storied career: winning a case in a Chinese court. Continue reading Maradona wins China court battle – but will he get paid?
Some thoughts for the weekend… I’ll say upfront that I’m not a huge fan of Forbes, particularly when it comes to their sports coverage, but their annual list of the world’s 100 highest paid athletes makes for interesting reading. Two things are clear: the money is still in the US – 63 of the athletes are American; 73 are US-based – but the sponsorship business is a global one.
The 99% claim has popped up twice in recent days in the context of Chinese sports, and both times there are less than convincing arguments.
Firstly, a Shanghai Shenhua club lawyer told Sina in reference to Didier Drogba’s contested move to Galatasaray in Turkey:
“We now have evidence which we believe will give Shenhua a 99% chance of winning a lawsuit at FIFA.”
Unnamed legal sources tend to have a habit of exaggeration because they are anonymous –> untraceable –> unaccountable. But I’m pretty sure – 99% sure in fact – that Drogba’s own legal team would have made sure there is a water tight case for breach of contract by Shenhua (presumably for unpaid wages) before he moved to another club.
My article for Beijing Cream about the soccer match-fixing penalties handed out in China this week:
The latest penalties in China soccer’s match-fixing drama have been a long time coming – several players, officials and referees were already sent to prison last year – but as announced Monday, they were still fairly significant. In summary:
- Shanghai Shenhua stripped of the 2003 league title
- Two teams docked 6 points each going into next year
- One team docked 3 points
- Three teams fined 1 million yuan
- Four teams fined 500,000 yuan
- Five teams’ registration annulled
- 33 individuals banned for life (eight players, seven CFA officials, four refs, 14 club/league officials)
- 25 individuals banned for five years (seven players, three league officials, 15 assorted club officials)
A few things stand out. First, a reminder that long before the failed Drogba-Anelka experiment, Shenhua used to be quite good. Yes, they bought the title in 2003 (though quite why they had to fix a game against the now-defunct Shaanxi Guoli, a club that finished bottom of the league by eight points that year, is beyond me). But prior to 2011, the club had finished outside the top six just three times in 29 years. Their last two finishes? 11th and 9th.
Link to radio feature on China’s soccer match-fixing punishments by the London-based Voice of Russia, featuring comments from yours truly.