CFA cancels U23 policy, prevents admission of debted clubs
Published: Feb 08, 2023 11:14 PM
Players of Chinese Super League side Tianjin Teda take part in a training session on Tuesday in Tianjin. Photo: VCG

Players of Chinese Super League side Tianjin Teda take part in a training session on Tuesday in Tianjin. Photo: VCG

From booting clubs owing heavy debt from the Chinese Super League (CSL) to canceling the under-23 (U23) policy, Chinese Football Association's (CFA) announcement on Tuesday reveals its desire to reform Chinese soccer. 

As multiple reform measures that are about to be implemented across the country, the CFA noted that it has already made preparations for the upcoming CSL open in mid-April.

The 2023 Professional League Club Heads Meeting and the CSL, League One and League Two Club CEOs Summit were held at the Xianghe National Team Center, North China's Hebei Province on Tuesday. 

The meeting announced that the CSL will resume the home and away match system during the upcoming season.

It also stated that the period for club admissions will start on Friday, with the admission list set to be announced on March 20. The meeting also announced the cancelation of the U23 policy, which had been in effect since the 2017 season.

The CFA also noted that in addition to repaying debt, clubs must also pay all fines for breaches of discipline before being admitted as debts-related issues have become a major hindrance for the development of Chinese soccer.

Two football clubs, Shenzhen FC and Guangzhou City, have encountered difficulties in entering the CSL. According to Chinese media outlet The Paper, both clubs have debts issues that need to be resolved.

Shenzhen FC has also been wrestling with scandals involving its former midfield star and Chinese men's national soccer team head coach Li Tie, who had been suspected of violating the law. 

Chinese soccer has been undergoing an anti-corruption storm recently, the biggest such movement since major investigations into gambling and bribery from 2009 to 2013.

Six people including one player and one general manager of Shenzhen FC, are under investigation in relation to Li's case.

The cancelation of the U23 policy is another major change for the new season.

In 2017, the CFA launched the U23 policy in light of a scarcity of young domestic players. The policy required that clubs must have at least one player under 23 in their first squad.

Wang Dazhao, a Beijing-based sports commentator, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the policy never fulfilled its mission of cultivating young talent.

"They had good intentions, but team coaches constantly took advantage of loopholes in the U23 policy. In addition, 23 is not a standard age for young players at an international level. This, plus constant changes to policy details, all contributed to the failure of the policy," said Wang.