Are African Football Players Winning In The Chinese Super League?

African players
Credit: FirstTouch

By Orire Agbaje

African Footballers have become an attractive investment for other football leagues. Their skill and zeal are the centers of attraction here. The Africa-China relationship initially was based on economic and development strategies. Now, a sports collaboration between Africa, China, and football – an interesting segment – has been added. The Chinese Super League has felt the impact of African top players, amazingly both men and women are soaring high. This contract is beneficial as long as Africans stay at the top of their game.

Since its inception in 2004, the Chinese Super League (CSL) has been competing hard to be top among European leagues. CSL has been signing top players in Africa and offering them contracts to consider the endorsement.

In 2020, there are 16 teams competing with the following African players – Stéphane Mbia (Shanghai Shenhua), Jhon Mary (Shenzhen fc), Joseph Minala (Qingdao Huanghai), Cédric Bakambu (Bejing Simbo Guoan), Jean Evrard Kouassi (Wuhan Zall), Stoppila Sunzu (shijazhuang ever bright), Mohammed Buya Tueay (hesei China fortune), Obafemi Martins (wuhan Zall), Frank Acheampong (Tianjn Teda), Emmanuel Boateng (Dalian Yifang), Mubarak Wakaso (jiangsu Suning), and Christain Bassogog (henan Jianye).

Looking to grow the league, CSL recruits top players. Due to an established relationship in Africa, CSL picks top African players, but CSL offers high wages with high expectations. Players are to keep up the record they started that attracted them to CSL. Kwame Ayew said that if one doesn’t perform well, your contract is terminated.

In January 2017, the CSL made some adjustments on the verge of avoiding irrational investment. The new rules included not having more than 3 foreign players in a match. This reduced the number of Africans that can play and increased competition. Players can only benefit from the CSL if their skills are top-notch. CSL has recruited 90 top players in Africa. They have made a remarkable debut and benefited in some other ways in salaries and investment opportunities. In 2020, Cédric Bakambu became an all-time scoring leader in Beijing Guoan – 50th goal.

African Players In The Chinese League
Yaya Toure signs with CSL
Credit: Stadium Astro

Yaya Toure – Toure is one of the world’s finest players. He moved to China and signed a deal with Qingdao Huanghai. Toure contributed to earning promotion for the club to play next season. In January 2020 he left CSL.

Didier Drogba CSL
Credit: Sportskeeda

Didier Drogba – Drogba is an influential player due to his performance in Chelsea and Ivory Coast. He spent eight months in China with Shanghai Shenhua, then he terminated his contract due to lack of payment. He scored 8 goals in 11 games.

Asamoah Gyan signs with CSL
Credit: FootballGhana

Asamoah Gyan – The Ghanaian striker has been top of his game. He was one of the best paid in Shanghai SIPG when he commanded a £227k per week contract. His club made him one of the world’s best-paid football player.

Frederic Kanoute
Credit: beIn SPORTS

Frederic Kanoute – He spent the final years of his active career in Beijing Guoan. He signed a one and half-year contract, after winning the European league in 2006 and 2007. He scored his first two goals against Qingdao jonoom.

Obafemi Martins signs with CSL
Credit: CGTN

Obafemi Martins – Martins signed a deal with Shanghai shenhua. He was a Chinese cup winner in 2017. His contract was terminated after his six-month injury. At the age of 36, he recently signed a one year deal with Wuhan Zall fc.

Aiyegbeni Yakubu signs for CSL
Credit: Daily Post Nigeria

Aiyegbeni Yakubu – Yakubu signed a three-year contract with Guangzhou R&F. He made his first debut in a match against Guangzhou Evergreen, where he scored the winning goal of the match in the 87th minute.

Looking through the experiences of past African players, we can conclude it all depends on one’s effort. On a surface level, it is beneficial, but effort and skills attract those benefits.

Women’s Chinese Super League

African women are also performing well in the Women’s Chinese super league (WCSL). Recently, Barbara Banda, a 20-year-old Zambian, won the Golden boot. She’s playing for Shanghai Shengua, and has scored 18 goals in 13 games. Also, the Malawian sisters – Tabitha and Temwa Chawinga – are performing well. One is playing for Wuhan, while the other is playing for Jiangsu. They create a strip whenever they play together. 

The rule of three foreign members in a game still applies in the WCSL. In 2019, the Chinese board instructed all teams to have a women league, so they will also compete in the 2020 season. This is a great opportunity for African women to showcase their skills. African women in WCSL include Onome Ebi, Chinwendu Ihezuo, Elisabeth Addo, Fransisca Ordegu, and many others.

As African players gain fame in the WCSL and CSL, the popularity of these Chinese soccer platforms in Africa grows rapidly. Because the Chinese-owned African pay-TV- Startimes beams two matches a day during the season into the 33+ million homes it serves across the continent. In the long run, the big money the Chinese use in luring Africans will pay off eventually. People around the world also get to see the great talent embedded in Africans. Investment opportunities come alongside this.

At present, certain issues, like debt, racism, and geopolitics, influence the Africa-China relationship. Sports (football) could spur economic development and give the relationship a soft edge. Africans playing in the CSL is not detrimental in any way, in as much as players meet up expectations. It is beneficial to both men and women who are performing well.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

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