Tim Cahill critical of Chinese football spending spree
Chinese Super League (CSL) has been the talk of football world after luring a series of elite players from other major leagues with hefty transfer fees. Australia's Tim Cahill who plays for Shanghai Shenhua suggested greed was driving CSL's growth. Cahill called the spending crazy and said it was only a matter of time before a Chinese club spent $100 million on a player.
Chinese Super League, origins
Chinese Super League or CSL is the highest tier of professional association football in China, operating under the auspices of the Chinese Football Association. CSL was created in 2004 by the rebranding of the former top division 'Chinese Football Association Jia-A League'. Originally contested by 12 teams in the inaugural year, the league has expanded to include 16 teams in the current season.
Current champions of CSL
Champions of CSL 2015 season are Guangzhou Evergrande, who won it for the 5th time. Their previous league titles were in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. Guangzhou Evergrande is part-owned by Alibaba founder Jack Ma.
China aims at becoming football powerhouse
After introducing football as a mandatory part of school curriculum in late 2014, China now aims at becoming a football powerhouse. It announced an ambitious plan to overhaul the nation's soccer management. China's leading group of central reform, chaired by President Xi Jinping released a 50-point plan. This involved every aspect of football, including management, professional clubs, leagues, national teams, grass-roots football players, etc.
Xi Jinping, a ManU supporter
China's President Xi Jinping is an avid football enthusiast, known to support English Premier League's Manchester United.
Goals of 50-point plan
The goals of 50-point plan included returning China's women's football team to its former pre-eminence, seeing the Chinese men's team qualify for the World Cup and, eventually, bidding to host the World Cup. In a significant step, it pledged to separate the Chinese Football Association (CFA) from China's much-criticized sports bureaucracy. This would enable CFA to independently determine its manpower and financial requirements.
Why the emphasis on football?
China's ambition stems from the pitiable state of Chinese football. They are currently ranked 93 in Fifa rankings, and qualified for World Cup only once, in 2002. Additionally, spectator interest in the CSL has been increasing. From an average attendance of 10,838 in the inaugural league, it has risen to 22,193, last year. Observers believe that emphasis on football will boost China's soft power.
China's biggest transfer deals
In the first week of February, CSL's spending spree began with the purchase of former Chelsea midfielder Ramires, by Jiangsu Suning for a reported $31 million. This was followed by Colombian striker Jackson Martinez's transfer from Atletico Madrid to Guangzhou Evergrande at $47 million. Then came the league's record-breaking signing of Brazilian midfielder Alex Teixeira from Shakhtar Donetsk by Jiangsu Suning for $56 million.
Arsene Wenger on CSL spending
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger warned that European clubs have reasons to worry about China's spending power. "China looks to have the financial power to move the whole league of Europe to China; it is just a consequence of economic power, and they have that", he said.