Fan outrage as China FA calls up 55 under-25 players to ‘military’ training camp, ruling them out for the rest of the season
Scheme explains yet another set of new rules regarding young domestic players, some of whom will miss Super League run-in and cup final
October 2 has been declared “the day Chinese football died” by social media users after the Chinese FA launched a training camp that ends the season for 55 young players from the top flight and China League One.
The under-25s will be in the camp until December, meaning they miss the last six games of the Chinese Super League and in some cases the chance to appear in the Chinese FA Cup final.
Reaction on social media has been unforgiving, with most unable to fathom the logic of removing young players from competitive football for a training camp.
Shock and outrage over the news that the CFA will summon 55 U25 players, many of them established starters in the CSL, for a 2-month training camp, most likely in preparation for a “CFA team” in top tier. Most common reaction in fan chat groups: Chinese football died on Oct 2nd pic.twitter.com/E1ETtOCPpF
— Tobias Zuser (@duwenzhe) 2 October 2018
The CFA had introduced a rule earlier this week to say they were relaxing the regulations on playing under-23s.
The new rule allowed teams to play one less under-23 in the league for each called up to the national team.
That had left fans puzzled before the subsequent announcement of the camp because there are no upcoming tournaments.
Now, it is unlikely that more than a handful of under-23s will feature in the rest of the season, despite the CFA pushing the development of young Chinese players by creating a rule that clubs had to play a local under-23 for every foreigner.
Chinese FA has updated the U23 policy. Now teams can field one less U23 player for each player summoned by any national, which includes the senior, squad. This applies when a national team is in action in 2018. pic.twitter.com/KpC8jNztDC
— Wild East Football (@wildeastfootbal) 2 October 2018
Reports suggest the players will undergo military training at the camp, with success in that key to staying in the camp. Other Chinese sports have used military training for their stars.
There is speculation these under-25s will form a team to compete in the league next season.
Some are viewing this 55-man squad as a “second team” for Marcello Lippi’s national side.
The Italian, whose first team will play Fifa friendlies in October and November as preparation for the Asian Cup in January, told Italian radio he is likely to leave China once his contract ends at the end of that tournament.
CFA today issued a mandate for a 'Chinese national team training camp' from Oct. 8th to Dec. 28th, recalling 55 players from CSL and CL1 clubs (all of them are under 23), as a pool for back-up players for the national team. The coaches of the training camp are all domestic. pic.twitter.com/PfI7sJAR8s
— Titan Sports Plus (@titan_plus) 2 October 2018
That would be yet another change at the top of Chinese football after chief administrator Cai Zhenhua left the role he kept since 2014.
The former table tennis ace was removed as deputy director of the General Administration of Sport and with it his role as head of the Chinese FA.
This change at the top is what is driving these new rule changes.
China’s under-23s have underperformed as badly as their senior side.
They went out in the round of 16 at the Asian Games in Indonesia in August after losing 4-3 to Saudi Arabia.