Cannavaro 'breaks club rules' to keep Guangzhou in China title race

Evergrande declared prior to the season that it would field only two foreign players at a time to promote homegrown talent.

Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao head coach Fabio Cannavaro   -  Getty Images

Italian legend Fabio Cannavaro flouted the rules of his club Guangzhou Evergrande to keep the seven-time champion in the Chinese Super League title race.

Evergrande declared prior to the season that it would field only two foreign players at a time to promote homegrown talent.

But with his side trailing 1-0 at newly promoted Wuhan Zall at half-time on Friday night, Cannavaro brought on English-born former Everton defender Tyias Browning. That left Evergrande with three foreign players on the pitch in the second half -- Browning and the Brazilian midfielders Paulinho and Anderson Talisca.

Evergrande went on to win 3-2 -- Talisca and Paulinho both scoring -- and the team lies third in the table with a third of the campaign gone.

“Cannavaro broke the inside rules of the club and the appearance of the three players provided a signal that the team needed to win the game at all costs,” said the Guangzhou Daily.

World Cup-winning captain Cannavaro, 45, defended the move.

“More than once I have said that Browning is a Chinese player. I don't know what the problem is,” said the Italian.

The 24-year-old Browning, who left Premier League club Everton for Guangzhou in February, is attempting to become a naturalised Chinese citizen. But the former England youth international, who is said to have a Chinese grandfather, is registered as a foreign player, according to Chinese media.

Under CSL rules, a maximum of three foreigners can play at a time, but Evergrande placed its own restrictions limiting itself to two this season.

Cannavaro is unlikely to be punished by the club, which is eight points behind runaway leader Beijing Guoan.