China isn’t the first country that most would associate with football. The only time they qualified for the world cup was 16 years ago. Admittedly, the team didn’t fare too well and failed to make it past the first round.
Despite the lack of a strong national team and claims of corruption within their own Chinese Super League, China is home to millions of avid enthusiasts of the game. Even Xi Jinping, the President, is a passionate fan, who has a master plan to improve the football scene in the years to come drastically.
With the aim to become “world football superpower” by 2050, President Xi Jinping has made several investments to make that happen. This includes the setting up of 20,000 training centers and 70,000 pitches, hiring coaches from different countries, sending young players abroad for training and even offering citizenships to overseas players. Quite a few foreign players have been transferred to the Chinese Super League for millions of pounds.
The Chinese league draws all kinds of players, from relatively unknown players from smaller South American football clubs, to big names from Europe. Chelsea’s Ramires moved to Jiangsu Suning for £25 million, and Brazilian striker Alex Teixeira was bought for £34 million. Colombia’s Jackson Martinez was transferred for £32 million. Although moving to different clubs outside the mainstream isn’t uncommon after one football career is beginning to decline, these players are at their peak.
Over the past few months, a total of one-hundred and fifty million has been spent on foreign players. Private Chinese investors are also putting large chunks of money into several clubs like Manchester City, Slavia Prague and Sochaux. This, of course, is backed by the State.
However, the new limitations placed on capital outflows might curb this immense transfer boom. The Chinese Football Association will charge a 100% tax on transfers above 45 million Chinese Yuans. This was done with hopes to encourage and hone domestic talent. This might give China an edge over other Asiatic countries, and also give them a fighting chance at qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.
In this other article, you can learn is it worth to place a bet on the cup