It is fair to say that the Chinese Super League has attracted its fair share of headlines since its inception back in 2004, 10 years after the Jia-A League became the first professional football league in the history of the country.
By and large, the commentary on the league, its players, the money involved in the game and the galaxy of stars attracted to it, has been largely positive. But perhaps not so good for the game in China were the headlines that greeted the farcical episode when Beijing Renhe concluded their 5-0 hammering at Guangzhou Evergrande with THREE keepers on the field in the fifth round of the Chinese FA Cup.
Some critics were unwavering in their stinging criticism of the amazing scenes with some citing that the club were effectively throwing the towel in on the match game against Fabio Cannavaro’s outfit. Other commentators suggested that there is a strong possibility that the Chinese Football Association may well consider some sort of punishment. Time will tell on that one.
The story started to unfold when Renhe — who are managed by Serbian coach Aleksandar Stanojevic — managed to name only three substitutes when they were entitled to announce four more with a total of seven allowed for cup matches. But with relegation a distinct possibility already for Renhe with more than a third of the CSL season elapsed, doubters have suggested that the club didn’t take the game as seriously as they might have done.
So, two of the three subs were custodians and the writing was on the wall when just before half-time and — with the visitors trailing 1-0 — a second keeper, Liu Peng, came on. No, he didn’t go in goal as you might expect, rather he played outfield in place of crocked forward Sun Weizhe.
Cannavaro’s outfit then went 2-0 up before totally dominating the rest of the match and chalking up a 5-0 score line. Then, with about 10 minutes on the clock, a third keeper — this time in the shale of Li Chen — came on, again, as an outfield player. Expect more details on what lay behind the crazy scenes to emerge soon.
Meanwhile, more transfer speculation is circulating and the latest names said to be considering moves to the CSL are Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos and Mesut Ozil from Arsenal. Spain skipper Ramos is said to be keen on cashing in on one last big pay day but reports suggest the Bernabeu hierarchy are reticent to part with their leader.
Ozil, on the other hand, is said to be unhappy at Arsenal — and they with him — following the club’s humiliating 4-1 defeat to London rivals Chelsea in the Europa League cup final in Baku, Azerbaijan this week. The German playmaker is said to be earning a reported £350,000 a week with the Gunners and it is said that the only league in the world likely to be able to match the wages for a player not at the top of his game would be in China.