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Call it the “Cleo Rule”: CFA announces new rules on foreign players

Guangzhou Evergrande’s proposal to add  two foreign player roster spots came before a full CFA committee today and passed receiving the necessary 2/3rds majority. Of the 64 possible votes, there were 61 representatives and the proposal received 43 “yes” votes, 16 “no” votes, and two abstentions. The rule will go into effect immediately, allowing teams to add two additional foreign players to their rosters.

However, it’s not that easy. After the change was passed, the CFA announced a very unusual caveat to the rule, which surely will make many of those who voted in favor of it regret their votes (unless they got paid for their votes by Evergrande boss Xu Jiayin). This rule will only apply to those teams currently in the Asian Champions League, ie Guangzhou Evergrande.

A mid-season rules change that will only benefit a single club, the club that proposed the change. If this isn’t an “only in China” situation, I don’t know what is. Mercifully, the CFA decided to put limits on the change, the “3+1” rule for foreigners on the pitch won’t change and the club will remain limited to five foreigners in the matchday roster.

It’s only my utter professionalism that has me calling this the “Cleo Rule” instead of “Why Even Bother Playing The Fucking Games, Just Give Evergrande The Title Like You Want To Do Rule”. We’ll name it after Cleo because it is he who Evergrande is proposing the rule for. After Lucas Barrios arrived in Guangzhou, Cleo was widely expected to be the odd foreigner out, now he’ll be able to remain with the Cantonese club instead of potentially going to an opponent.

I’m very proud of Guoan’s efforts to oppose this change, stating that such a major rules change should be researched and looked into thoroughly and not come in the middle of a season. However, the CFA is always looking for ways to make Chinese football look good around Asia and believes this move will help Evergrande compete in the ACL by keeping their foreign players fresh.

On the day that the world is fete-ing Chinese football for the coup in signing Didier Drogba, this move just shows how far behind the CFA is.

Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years. Chemers' credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers. For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.

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