Hong Kong international Yapp Hung-fai denied chance to play with CSL club

Chinese Football Association turns down Guizhou's application for HK international as it wants to foster talent of mainland 'keepers

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 July, 2013, 12:30pm

Hong Kong officials will seek clarification from their mainland counterparts after South China goalkeeper Yapp Hung-fai was refused a playing opportunity, despite other Hong Kong players being classified as "locals".

In a strange ruling, Yapp has been denied registration as a "local" player in the China Super League (CSL) because keepers must be mainlanders to foster home-grown talent.

A number of Hong Kong players are plying their trade in the mainland under the category of "local player", freeing up foreign player quotas, but this is not the case for Hong Kong international Yapp, who has caught the eye of CSL side Guizhou Renhe.

"We have heard about the case and I think we have an obligation to clarify the situation," said acting Hong Kong Football Association chairman Steven Lo Kit-sing, after a meeting of the board of directors last night.

"The China League has a very good standard, which always attracts our top players. We have players such as Chan Siu-ki and Leung Chun-pong there at the moment. We need to find out what's happening to Yapp."

Yapp, 23, helped South China lift the championship last season and, although he still has one year left on his contract, he wants to pursue his career across the border with South China's blessing.

The goalkeeper has been offered a four-year deal with Guizhou - as a "local player" in accordance with the existing rules. But the Chinese Football Association turned down Guizhou's application on Thursday because all goalkeepers in the CSL must be mainlanders and Yapp does not fulfil this requirement.

The CSL registration deadline is next Thursday and if the situation is not resolved Yapp will stay with South China and play in the Barclays Asia Trophy.

"Yapp is our first choice keeper and if he can't join Guizhou, he will need to honour his contract with us," said Lo, who is also South China convenor. "We want to settle the matter quickly so it won't affect the player or the club."

Yapp, who is in preseason training with the Caroliners in Guangdong, said he did not understand why there was an exception for goalkeepers.

"I want to play in a higher league to pursue my dreams in soccer," he said. "It would be very disappointing if I am not allowed. If that happens, I will have to stay with South China."

The HFKA, meanwhile, decided that newly promoted Eastern will have to use Shing Mun Valley Sports Ground as their home for next season.

"The venues have been allocated in accordance with the final league standings, followed by the rankings of the three newly promoted sides," said Lo. "We will not change the policy, but new allocation will be made after one season by the same principle."

Eastern executive director Peter Leung Shou-chi said they would appeal the decision as the Kwai Chung venue was difficult to access and fans need to walk at least 20 minutes from the nearest MTR station. "We want to share the Hong Kong Stadium with South China and we can't see any reason why the So Kon Po venue cannot accommodate two teams while Mong Kok Stadium can," said Leung. Kitchee and Sun Pegasus will share the Mong Kok venue next season.