Chinese Whispers

Chinese Whispers

By Christopher Atkins

After an extended Chinese New Year break, the Chinese Whispers column is back with a look at the latest stories from football in the Middle Kingdom.

There have been no surprises, with the usual hot topics of match-fixing, Brazilian signings and clubs’ long-term futures all in the news over the last few weeks—all regular staples of football in China. So, without further ado, Christopher Atkins take a look at all the recent activity as we enter the year of the snake.

Shenhua and TEDA suffer in match-fixing scandal

Shanghai Shenhua celebrate the 2003 title that has now been stripped from them

Unfortunately, in recent years, Chinese football has never been too far from a match-fixing scandal and this year looks to be no exception. Thanks to offences dating back to 2003, both Shanghai Shenhua and Tianjin TEDA will start the season with a six point penalty to their name—a rather light penalty given that sides have previously been relegated for the same offence.

Fellow Super League side Shandong Luneng were hit with a €120,000 fine for their part, an amount Shenhua and TEDA will also have to pay, while second tier Yanbian were fined €60,000 and deducted three points. Shenhua have also been stripped of their 2003 league title which will now remain vacant.

Although not involved in the sanctions, Dalian Aerbin have also born the brunt of the CFA’s ruling as manager Xu Hong was handed a five-year ban from footballing activities. Xu was brought in this winter to replace current Beijing Guoan boss Aleksander Stanojevic, who had turned around the team’s fortunes last season. It is a decision the club may now regret.


The annual Brazilian migration arrives

Andre Lima has signed with Beijing Guoan

Moving back to footballing matters, the last couple of weeks have seen the arrival of China’s annual Brazilian reinforcements. The South American nation will contribute, as ever, a large proportion of the league’s foreign players in 2013.

Most active in the Brazilian market have been Changchun Yatai who, in the space of days, added three new imports to their ranks. Defender Éder Baiano joins from Busan in South Korea, while Brazilian Série B top-scorer Zé Carlos of Criciúma is joined by the man he beat to that title, Isac of América-RN. The pair contributed 47 league goals between them in 2012.

The most high profile of the recent imports has been Beijing Guoan’s capture of Grêmio striker André Lima. The forward may not enjoy the best of reputations in his homeland, but he has proved a consistent contributor of goals and should add quality to the league in China. Elsewhere, former Santos defender Éder Lima has joined Tianjin Teda, while Jeju United striker Santos has joined recently promoted Wuhan Zall.


Other stories of note:

• Eight time champions Dalian Shide gave up their battle to retain a Super League place meaning that Shanghai Shenxin and their new Australian signing Michael Marrone will be in the league next year.

• Shanghai East Asia have strengthened their ranks with Ghanaians Ransford Addo and Chris Dickson, the latter formerly of Charlton Athletic. Former Málaga centre-back Iban Cuadrado has also signed up.

• Hangzhou Greentown, despite an 8-0 friendly defeat to Hungarian side Videoton, look to have made some good additions in the form of Japan striker Masashi Oguro and Ivorian powerhouse Davy Angan. The latter has helped Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Molde side to Tippeligaen titles in 2011 and 2012.

• Wuhan Zall continued their impressive recruitment for the new season with the capture of former Premier League target, Malian striker Garra Dembele on loan from Freiburg. Serbian centre-back Novak Martinovic also joins Dembele, Santos and Cho Won-Hee in Hubei.


Fixtures update

The 2013 Chinese Super League will kick off on the weekend of the 8/9/10 March. A full list of likely dates for matches this season can be found on Wild East Football.

Before then, though, China’s four Asian Champions League representatives will all be in action on February 26 and 27, with Guangzhou Evergrande v Urawa Red Diamonds perhaps the standout fixture.

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