John Yan: Guangzhou, Liujian and CFA in limbo 青岛中能,足协无能

Bottles were flying on the pitch side, and Guangzhou Evergrande & Taobao FC were losing their grip on the Asian Champions League Trophy bit by bit. The quarter final of ACL between the trophy holders and the Australian club, West Sydney Wanderers, played August 27, was a spirit sapping match.

The Australian side is not that strong that anyone would consider them favorite to qualify for the semi-final, however, they came with a clear tactical plan, executed with great efficiency and fought with the obvious Aussie hard nose – they could tackle and hassle to cause some bloody noses all round.

The final score was a 2:1 victory to Guangzhou, but they lost the away fixture 0:1, and exited this competition on the away goals rule. When they won the trophy eight months ago, the club’s name was still Guangzhou Evergrande, now you need to add Taobao on to that. We need to explain a bit: Taobao.com is the leading online business website in China, and with a flamboyant chairman, Mr. Ma Yun. Mr. Xu Jiayin, invited Ma Yun to be a partner of his club, and after 15 minutes of chat on mobile phone, Ma Yun agreed to purchase 50% of the club at the price of 1.2 billion RMB (£ 120 million). The deal was agreed on 5 June,2014, and the club renamed itself then.

Ma Yun had not been to a football match before in his life, and wrote a blog piece taunting the failures of China football for the past years. His sudden involvement in football stirred up a lot of questions regarding his real intention. Ma did attend the ACL quarter final home fixture, for his first real experience of a football match. When the match ended with Guangzhou winning but relegated because of the away goal rule, Ma was caught on TV camera loudly applauding with a grinning face, while Xu, who sat by his side, couldn’t hide his disappointment. The scene caused quite a stir on social media, as many doubted whether Mr. Ma understands the rules.

Guangzhou out of the ACL, but the domestic season is still on, and they are still leading by 6 points in the league with 8 rounds to play. The domestic season, which runs from March till November, was terribly disrupted by the World Cup, when the China Super League had to enter a hiatus period for two months to give way for the Brazil event. But just as the season was about to resume, another case relating to Guangzhou and the China FA erupted.

It all originated from a footballer named Liu Jian, who was signed by Guangzhou before the season started. Liu Jian is a full China international, and used to be the captain of the relegated club Qingdao FC. As Guangzhou signed him, he was declared a free agent. However, his former club disagreed, and three different versions of contracts came out. One indicated that Liu had two more years with Qingdao FC, with an annual salary of less than 1 million RMB, the second indicated his contract expired at the end of 2013, with an annual salary of close to 3 million RMB, and the absurd third one included some other funny clauses. A further unpheaval came with when Liu Jian put forward his own version of the contract to the CFA, asking for arbitration, as his former club would never let him go freely.

The CFA took its time to make a decision, which allowed Liu Jian to join Guangzhou in mid-April. Qingdao FC did not accept the decision, and they went to arbitration. On August 16, the CFA issued a punishment to Qingdao FC, docked them 7 points from their struggle in the second division and handed out a 400,000 RMB penalty. The next day, Qingdao FC held an open news conference, saying they would not accept that and would fight the CFA till the end.

How could a footballer have three contracts with the same club during the same period of time?

This is nothing unusual, it is called the Yin and Yang contracts.

The origin dates back to more than ten years ago, when the CFA issued several policies of regulating footballers’ salaries, setting all kinds of ridiculous of salary caps but without any rigorous methods to regulate them. Therefore, the club would always provide CFA with a fake contract, simply just keep one on record that was correct due to CFA policies, but sign another real one with the player for their market price.

This is the typical conflict of systems that Chinese society is still going through, from the Soviet-style central planning system to the market oriented system. The CFA did have a number of chances to clear the air and abolish all the funny policies they issued from time to time, but nobody is taking responsibility. And when Liu Jian’s transfer uncovered the true stories about all the contracts, the CFA lost more face and grounds in regulating the league and the football industry.

The clock is ticking, as another introspecting group from the central government is inside the National Sports Bureau for football and other related researches. The President of China kept saying how he loves football and how important football would be for the future, and the CFA is still dozing off in limbo. Something is about to happen.

Guangzhou is out of Asian competition for this season, but they will be back next year for sure. Marcelo Lippi, the head coach, signed up his former disciple, the Italian striker Alberto Gilardino as a replacement for the leaving South Americans. Mr. Ma’s share of the club ownership has pumped more cash into this club so they would do well in the domestic league and Asia, but there will be more stories coming from the higher end of Chinese football.

John Yan is Deputy Editor of Netease.com. Contact him at moc.l1516495081iamg@15164950818002g1516495081naiqn1516495081ay1516495081, or on weibo at:http://weibo.com/1646270104/profile?topnav=1&wvr=5

青岛中能,足协无能

一个二级联赛的俱乐部,能够在首都召开新闻发布会,公开拒绝接受一国足协的处罚判定,并且提出对于这个行业管理机构的诸多怀疑,声称一定要抗争到底。这样的场景,国际足坛相当罕见,青岛中能扮演了一个反叛者的角色。

然而如果在社交媒体上,去了解一下人们对于因刘健转会案引发的纠纷,最终导致中国足协处罚青岛中能俱乐部,罚分又罚款的结果,你会发现大部分的批评,依然是针对着中国足协的。青岛中能以及青岛市足协的代表,在旷日持久的这场争斗中,表现得十分强硬,不乏一些过分言辞,同时又会用”一个小俱乐部活得容易吗”这样的话语,来博取公众的同情,只是这些行为,都不能掩盖刘健与青岛中能之间,确实存在过阴阳合同等行业弊端的事实。

倘若只是按理论是非,青岛中能作为有错的一方,根本没有资格来挑战行业管理者,然而和很多中超中甲俱乐部一样,哪怕有错在身,也有证据为足协所掌握,青岛中能在挑战足协过程中,理直气壮,更要命的是,俱乐部还能得到公众和媒体的更多支持。

放在任何一种社会语境中,中能的表现都是反常的,唯独在面对中国足协时,所有人所有机构,都具备天然的道德和常理优越感。哪怕他们的作为行径,未必有道理,他们的行业道德水准,也未必高尚。

在中国足协对青岛中能俱乐部,处以联赛罚分7分、罚款40万人民币之后,俱乐部第一时间的反应,就是要和中国足协抗争到底。这个处罚结果,姗姗来迟,早在4月间,中国足协已经判定刘健为自由球员,可以代表广州恒大俱乐部登场了。此前刘健和中能俱乐部之间,有着多份合同存在,合同内容包括的薪资金额、合同年限,每个版本都不相同。2013赛季青岛中能降级,刘健作为队长,又是国脚,有意离队,加盟的对象,便是中超班霸广州恒大。

广州恒大也在2014年1月初高调宣布刘健的加盟。问题由此出现,刘健以自由球员身份加盟广州恒大,青岛中能损失巨大,因为刘健是俱乐部培养出来的球员,没有任何转会费收入,中能觉得自己亏大了。

由此俱乐部严厉阻止转会,刘健开始到中国足协告冤,他和中能的第一份合同出现;中能俱乐部回应调查,第二份合同出现;事情发展下去,还有更多合同的出现,而青岛中能俱乐部,在中国足协备案的合同,在纠纷越闹越大的过程中,出现了备案合同被篡改的丑闻,中国足协和中能都指责对方篡改了备案合同。事情闹到这个份上,已经是鸡毛一地。足协作为行业管理者,在俱乐部面前,毫无权威和威信,对于中能俱乐部提出的一些简单的问题,既缺乏严肃的回应解答,也不能在管理规范上自圆其说,甚至公开面对媒体的行为都不曾见到。这样的足协,俱乐部怎么可能尊敬?

将处罚结果放到8月宣布,罚分也是罚个不疼不痒的7分,中国足协又在息事宁人的惯性里和稀泥,因为这样时间的罚分,不会对中能的中甲地位有多少影响。可是中能俱乐部完全不接受,他们捏造阴阳合同,跟同时期其他俱乐部的行为是一致的,阴阳合同的产生,最初就是中国足协的各种限薪令带来的后果,俱乐部为了维持足协颜面,对于荒谬的限薪令,采取了虚与委蛇的态度——摆给足协看的,是符合限薪令的一张假合同,与球员之间,又有严重违反限薪令的另一份合同。

中能气焰嚣张,在于他们认为自己不是唯一的违禁者,几乎所有足球俱乐部都有过这种阳奉阴违的阴阳合同,”凭什么州官放火,百姓还不能点灯了”。俱乐部的不干净,从足协身上也能找到原因,如今核心球员要流失到豪门俱乐部,自己却必须在降级之后,重新应对冲超挑战。所以中能代表能说出:”……哪怕合同有问题,我们也培养刘健十七年……”这样的话语。法理论之,中能没有为自己申辩的依据,可是在面对一个低能而且有过更不干净背景的中国足协,俱乐部反倒有了倚小卖小的底气。

这本是一个中国足协彻底消除阴阳合同影响,重塑行业管理秩序的机会。但是各种拖延,各种缺乏自信的”照顾面子”行为,让足协又一次成为公众笑柄。中能不干净,足协没能力,一个价值观崩溃的时代,无能比无耻更不招人待见。