A senior official called for “good order” between the Chinese Super League’s (CSL) foreign and domestic players after allegations of racism and violence among a number of flare-ups involving top stars.
Zhang Jian, senior vice president and general-secretary of the Chinese Football Association, said the league needed balance between home-grown players and highly paid foreigners, whose ranks have swelled this season.
Ezequiel Lavezzi, the world’s best-paid player according to the Football Leaks Web site, was engulfed in a race storm this week, while Brazilian striker Hulk is being probed over an alleged assault on a coach.
Zhang, a newly anointed member of the powerful FIFA Council, said the foreign players were positive for China’s soccer ambitions, but he acknowledged that not all has run smoothly.
“Generally I think it’s a very good thing for us,” he told reporters at the World Football Forum in Changsha, China. “We have so many very good players from Brazil, from Argentina and from Europe like Hulk and Oscar. It’s very good motivation for us and a very good engine for us, and of course the clubs have invested so much money in them.”
“So after they’re coming we should ... be well governed and keep good order, and keep a good balance between the local players and the foreign players,” he said.
Chinese officials have been at pains to accommodate the new arrivals, with China international Qin Sheng handed an extraordinary six-month ban for stomping on the foot of Tianjin Quanjian’s Belgium midfielder Alex Witsel.
Qin’s Shanghai Shenhua team-mate Sun Shilin was also banned for two games for sarcastically giving Tianjin’s Alexandre Pato a thumbs-up after he missed a penalty.
When Guizhou Zhicheng coach Li Bing accused Shanghai SIPG’s Hulk of being anti-Chinese and punching assistant coach Yu Ming, he departed from his role within days.
However, the association has since launched an investigation into the incident, which is denied by both Hulk and his club.
Meanwhile, Zhang confirmed that China intends to bid for a FIFA World Cup, but said there had been no decision made as to which edition of soccer’s global showpiece the nation would seek to host.
Zhang told Xinhua news agency that China would not rush into a bid and would do so only when conditions were right.
“Sooner or later we will bid for the World Cup, because it is written in the General Development Plan of Chinese Football,” Zhang said. “However, which edition we apply for will be determined by lots of factors, and it will be a national project. It is not only the Chinese Football Association’s decision to make.”
The association denied reports last week it had already decided to bid for the 2034 World Cup finals.
“We will do more serious research and it will depend on how the situation develops,” Zhang said.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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