At the beginning of the 2019 CSL season, Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao set out a series of bizarre club rules.
The team rules for the 2019 season stipulate that the seven-time champions will demote the two worst players on the squad each month to the reserve team, remove three players from each 18-man squad for the next game and only field two foreign players each match, one less than allowed by CSL rules.
The latter rule is apparently a valiant effort by the South China club to develop local talent, however, it seems that when times get tough, club manager Fabio Cannavaro is not opposed to breaking that two foreign player rule.
With the team trailing by one goal at halftime against newly-promoted Wuhan Zall this past weekend, Cannavaro brought on former Everton defender Tyias Browning to join Brazilians Paulinho and Anderson Talisco on the field.
Guangzhou eventually went on to win the game 3-2, with both Paulinho and Talisco contributing goals. While local media was quick to pick up on Cannavaro’s flouting of club rules, the manager defended his decision, by pointing out that England-born Browning is practically a Chinese player.
Once vaunted as Everton’s next defensive hope by the Liverpool Echo in 2014, Browning has Chinese roots through his grandfather, which qualifies him to register as a naturalized Chinese player. He is currently attempting to register as a Chinese citizen, according to Yahoo Sports.
On the same weekend, Beijing Guo’an, a team who have two naturalized Chinese players in Nico Yennaris and John Hou Saeter, won their 10th game in a row to carry on their 100% winning start to the season. The capital side now sit five points ahead of champions Shanghai SIPG (who they play at Shanghai Stadium at 7.35pm on Sunday night, in a must-win game for SIPG if they are to keep the heat on Guo'an), and eight points clear of Guangzhou Evergrande.
[Cover image via @fabiocannavaroofficial/Instagram]