Chinese Super League kicks off in front of empty stadium

After clubs splashed out $410 million on new players in off-season, the Chinese Super League kicked off in front of an empty stadium, with the opening game being played behind closed doors.

The league signed up foreign talents like Oscar (above) and Carlos Tevez.   -  AP

The Chinese Super League kicked off on Friday following an off-season in which clubs splashed out $410 million on new players.

However, the league got off to a start in front of an empty stadium. Guizhou Zhicheng played the opening game against Lianoning Whowin but there were no spectators. The Guiyang Olympic Sports Center stadium's capacity is 52,000-plus.

After last year's final game, excited fans invaded the stadium. As a result, the opening game between the newly promoted Guizhou Zhicheng and Lianoning Whowin was played behind closed doors.

The league signed up foreign talents like Oscar and Carlos Tevez, who is now the highest paid player in the world.

CSL's spending exceeded the $263 million on transfers by the 20-team English Premier League, sparking concern from managers in Europe that more top players could be headed east.

It was also more than 16 times of what was spent by teams in Spain, where leading sides are owned by fans and invest heavily in home-grown talent, and more than the combined total spent by clubs in France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

The Chinese players have also gone on transfers at high prices, although the Chinese Football Association is worried that home-grown talent will lose playing opportunities to the foreigners when it is trying to improve the national team.

Sports authorities, in January, issued new rules limiting clubs in the 16-team league to using just three foreign players in games, and hinted at a future salary cap.

Concerns also rose about the sustainability of the Chinese Super League's business model, with much of the big spending on players spurred by the sale of the 2016-20 television rights for a record $1.25 billion.

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