Chinese Super League foreigner numbers set to be reduced, Asian rule removed

China's football association says it plans a series of measures to respond to "irrational" spending by clubs on transfer fees and salaries paid to foreign and domestic players.

The Chinese Football Association has lowered the number of foreign players eligible to play for clubs in a bid to halt "irrational" spending behaviour, it said on Monday.

Chinese clubs have also been rumored to be interested in purchasing superstars such as reigning World Player of the year, Cristiano Ronaldo, Chelsea's Diego Costa and Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez.

The number of overseas players allowed in a full 18-member squad is still five, however, while the Asian player quota has been abolished.

"Third-party audits, the development of club financial standards and many other supporting works [will take place] to promote the clubs to achieve an independent and healthy operation and enhance their management and operational capabilities to ensure long-term stable development of the professional league, [and] for Chinese football to make a positive contribution".

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Chelsea midfielders Oscar and John Mikel Obi have already moved to China this month, while former Manchester United and Manchester City forward Carlos Tevez reportedly became the world's highest-paid player when he joined Shanghai Shenhua last month.

Big business backers of CSL clubs, encouraged by football fan President Xi Jinping's vision of China becoming one of the game's superpowers, hosting and winning a World Cup, have splashed money on their teams alongside heavy investment in grass-roots development. Now, the new rules will especially affect players from the Asian region - like Australians and Koreans - who were able to be chosen on top of the previous global count of four.

With the scrapping of the previous rulings, under which you could name four foreigners and one Asian player, clubs will be forced to trim their squads.

China, ranked 82nd in the world, punch well below their weight in global competition, having qualified only once for the World Cup finals, in 2002, where they failed to win a match or score a goal.

  • Regina Holmes