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Go West! Chinese Footballers Now Can Transfer, Finally

February 12th, 2009 · No Comments · Football, Sports Regime

Zhou Haibin Signs for PSVThis Chinese New Year must have been a magical experience for Zhou Haibin (周海滨), a 23-year-old midfielder, who now finds himself joyfully as a PSV Eindhoven player. Before joining the Dutch side as a free transfer, the Chinese footballer has been playing at Shandong Luneng FC for 10 years.

While Zhou’s move was cheered by some, it definitely left Shandong Luneng FC and Chinese Football Association stunned. The Shandong club, who clumsily appealed to CFA trying to keep the player, was disappointed greatly after the association released a statement last week about their stand. Below’s our translation:

1. Some of CFA’s regulations on transfer and registration are different from FIFA’s. As a member of FIFA, CFA should obey FIFA’s regulations.

2. It’s a good thing for Chinese footballers to play in a high-level league overseas. As an important way to improve the development of Chinese football, we encourage more domestic players to play overseas.

3. CFA will speed up researching, improve its regulations on transfer and registration to better meet the needs of the development of Chinese football.

In China, if a player wants to be transfer-listed, he needs to let the club know in advance even if his contract already runs out. CFA rules state that a club have the ownership of its player up to 30 months from the last time he represented the team, which means Zhou’s ownership would remain at Shandong team untill 2011. 

However, according to FIFA’ Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players released last year, a professional shall only be free to conclude a contract with another club if his contract with his present club has expired or is due to expire within six months, which means a player like Zhou Haibin is entitled to sign for another team. Zhou is not the only one who discovered this new land, though. Feng Xiaoting (冯潇霆), same age as Zhou, received three offers from South Korea’s K-League teams, and completed the move to Daegu FC from Dalian Shide FC last month.

“Ninety percent of free agents in Chinese Super League would follow Feng Xiaoting and Zhou Haibin. Best of them can go to Europe, others can go to South Korea, Japan or the US, and the rest stay home,” wrote Xue Yong, Assistant Professor at Suffolk University and author of Conspicuous Soccer (《炫耀的足球》), in his blog. Mr. Xue half-jokingly titled his comment on the transfer news as Serfs Emancipation in Chinese Football.

Indeed, with AFC introduced its 3 plus 1 rule last year, which states that each team playing in the Asian Champions League is allowed to field four foreign players, one of whom must be from an Asian country, there will definitely be more opportunities for Chinese footballers. Gao Lin (郜林), a regular player in the Chinese setup who now plays at Shanghai Shenhua FC, is reportedly not willing to discuss a new contract with the team, and seeking out opportunities in European leagues. 

Related Reads:

  • Xue Yong: Serfs Emancipation in Chinese Football (Chinese)
  • AFC: Zhou move sparks ‘Bosman’ talk

Photo: PSV Media

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