Pupils have football class at the Jinzhai County primary school in Jinzhai, east China's Anhui Province, Sept. 3, 2019. (Xinhua/Zhang Duan)
The Chinese Football Association (CFA) is considering to impose a salary cap in December following China's loss to Syria in the World Cup qualifying stage, a move insiders predicted will help develop the embattled Chinese football industry.
The CFA on Wednesday night instructed football clubs to halt contract talks with Chinese national players, and to address and prevent financial problems at clubs, moves insiders believe pave the way for new regulations, including a salary cap, media reported.
CFA said they will further refine existing policies on clubs' financial supervision.
Although the notice never mentioned "salary reduction," observers said the move was made to prepare for the salary cap system, which will play an important role in reducing the financial burden of domestic clubs and standardize salaries.
CFA will set a salary cap of 10 million yuan ($1.42 million) for the Chinese Super League (CSL). Dual contracts will be severely punished and more players will be encouraged to play foreign league matches, the People's Daily reported.
The notice shows China's determination to break the bubble in its football industry, which is necessary, Ma Dexing, a deputy editor of the Changsha-based Titan Sports newspaper, told the Global Times on Thursday.
Ma said the salaries of China' professional leagues have become abnormal in recent years and bubbles are obvious.
CSL clubs spent a total of $690 million on salaries in the 2018-19 season, almost three times Japan's counterpart. The league also lost more than $700 million in 2017 for overspending on signing football stars. About 70 percent of a club's expenses go to wages. However, the CFA failed to conduct effective measures, Ma said.
Chinese football fans have always been disappointed with "high salary, low competence" of the male footballers. They blamed players as "money-oriented" and lacking a sense of national pride.
The new policy, however, sparked mixed reactions among football fans. Some believe it is a timely policy to build a first-class atmosphere, while others said the regulation may fail to stimulate the industry and footballers.
"Clubs can still offer extra money through signing fees and bonuses, is that true? And the CFA failed to mention naturalized players in the Wednesday regulation," a netizen said on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo.
The notice and reducing salaries are not enough. A comprehensive policy and all-around supervision from society are needed, Ma said.
According to reports, CSL ranked No.6 on the list of 2018 world soccer average annually salaries at $1.05 million, behind the world's "Big five:" Premier League in England, La Liga in Spain, Serie A in Italy, Bundesliga in Germany and Ligue 1 in France. China's national team only ranks 74th in the world.