In a move that has baffled already frustrated Chinese football fans, 55 CSL players under the age of 25 have been selected to undergo military training with the special forces. Initially reported by local media outfit, Zui Tai'an, the young footballers are training with Tai'an 71770, one of the most celebrated special force units in China.
The players are undergoing physical examinations and mental tests for three days, which started on October 9, in Beijing, after which they will go to Tai'an, Shandong to take part in a military training camp, before moving on to Kunming, Yunnan, according to Sina Sports.
And in a move that will displease their clubs, with just five rounds of the Chinese Super League season left, and with players set to be in training camp until December, the 55 under 25s will miss the business-end of the season.
Sina Sports also reported that any players who fail the course may be subject to a league suspension.
The announcement follows on from another change by the CSL to their under-23 rule, whereby teams must start each match with three players under the age of 23 on the field. The new clause states that for every national squad player on a given team, said team can play one less under-23 player.
Furthermore, the South China Morning Post reported on speculation that the 55 players may break off from their current teams and form a new squad to compete in the league next year.
The CSL has made no secret of its desire to strengthen the national football squad in recent years. The men's national team currently sits at number 76 in the FIFA World Rankings. This latest twist has raised eyebrows though.
As Titan Sports Plus point out, this is not the first time the CSL has organized a military training camp. Players were also sent to military training in 2007. On that occasion China were promptly knocked out in the second round of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.
[Cover image via Sina Sports]