Return of Chinese Super League still shrouded in uncertainty
Published: Jun 17, 2020 10:08 PM

Shanghai SIPG midfielder Odil Ahmedov (center) celebrates scoring against Beijing Renhe in the penultimate round of the Chinese Super League in Shanghai on November 7, 2018. Photo: VCG

The Chinese Football Association (CFA) insisted on Wednesday that the 2020 season of the Chinese Super League (CSL) must be held in the calendar year, with the restart of the season yet to be decided. 

The league, which was originally set to start in February, has been postponed indefinitely due to the spread of the coronavirus epidemic in the country. The easing of the situation in April raised hopes for the restart of the season in the following months, but this has not yet happened.

A spokesperson for the CFA told the Global Times on Wednesday that it remains unclear for now about a specific date for the restart of the season, but said a fundamental principle is that the league won't be held in split years like the top European leagues.

"The CFA is actively preparing for resumption of the professional football leagues," the spokesperson told the Global Times. "A fundamental principle is that we won't have a season in split years."

The CSL traditionally lasts from March to November, which means there will be a very limited time period in 2020 if the season is not to run into a new calendar year. 

Earlier reports suggested that the CSL season might be played in Shanghai and Guangzhou, two cities that host four CSL teams. But the proposal was denied by the government due to safety concerns over the coronavirus.

To have the CSL games played in Shanghai's neighboring Jiangsu Province has become an option for the CFA, as multiple stadiums in the East China province have hosted FIFA international games - though not at the men's top level.

But the new coronavirus outbreak in Fengtai district of Beijing in June may further cloud the restart of the league, as CSL giants Beijing Guoan were preparing for the new season in a training center in Fengtai.

The team were dismissed for a week and had to transfer to another training center in Beijing's neighboring Xianghe county in Hebei, according to a Beijing Youth Daily report on Wednesday. 

China international Wu Lei has become the only Chinese footballer to watch for now. He has played in two matches since the resumption of La Liga earlier this month, scoring one goal to help his relegation-battling team RCD Espanyol secure vital points. 

"It's exciting to watch Wu playing, but I sincerely hope the Chinese Super League will return to action soon to invigorate our weekend life," a fan posted on Weibo.