- Associated Press - Monday, January 16, 2017

BEIJING (AP) - China’s football association said Monday it plans a series of measures in response to “irrational” spending by clubs on transfer fees and player salaries, amid concerns that foreign stars are crowding out local talent and harming the country’s goal of becoming a global force in world football.

The Chinese Football Association said in a statement Monday that the unidentified steps would target the “operations and management” of teams in the top-tier China Super League and the China Premier League one step below it.

The new measures will address “recent irrational investments by clubs, high-figure transfer fees and salaries paid to domestic and international athletes and other issues,” the CFA said in a news release.

Gaudy spending by Chinese clubs on players such as Argentina’s Carlos Tevez has drawn global attention, raising fears among some that foreign stars are depriving local players of opportunities to grow. That could stifle the government’s attempts to produce talent capable of achieving its stated goal of winning the World Cup by 2050, part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s push to make football success a national priority.

Even in that endeavor, China is relying heavily on foreign talent, having hired veteran Italian coach Marcello Lippi to helm the men’s national team.

Other rules announced by the CFA appeared firmly aimed at addressing the lack of opportunities for Chinese players. They reduce the number of foreign club players who can appear at any given time from four to three and state that each team’s starting list must include at least two Chinese players under age 23.

Despite misgivings, Chinese clubs have continued to spend heavily over the past year to attract mainly South American stars. Apart from Tevez, whom Shanghai Shenhua said it paid an $11 million transfer fee to Argentine club Boca Juniors to acquire, they include Oscar, purchased from Chelsea, Brazilians Hulk, Ramires, Alex Teixeira and Paulinho, Colombian striker Jackson Martinez and Argentine forward Ezequiel Lavezzi.

Altogether, Chinese Super League clubs splashed out close to $300 million in the winter transfer window on big names.

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