China government seeks to 'regulate and restrain' transfer fees and wages

The Chinese government has called for restraint in a bid to cool the inflated fees and salaries being offered by Chinese Super League clubs just days after the country's transfer window opened.

Carlos Tevez, Oscar and Axel Witsel have become the latest high-profile foreigners to sign for CSL clubs, but with media speculation claiming the trio -- and others -- have signed for astronomical sums, the authorities have broken their silence.

In an unusual move, a government spokesman was quoted on the website of the General Administration of Sport saying the government would seek to "regulate and restrain high-priced signings, and make reasonable restrictions on players' high incomes."

Speculation has been rife over the sums on offer to foreign stars, with Tevez rumoured to be earning anywhere between €20-€40 million a year for his two-year contract with Shanghai Shenhua.

Oscar was signed from Chelsea for a €60m transfer fee by Shanghai SIPG to set a new Asian record, the second time in seven months the club had broken the record having earlier purchased Hulk from Zenit St Petersburg for €55m in June.

Witsel, meanwhile, has snubbed Italian giants Juventus to join newly promoted Tianjin Quanjian, with Zenit announcing the deal earlier in the week amid claims the Belgian midfielder would be earning €18m per season.

Until now, the Chinese government has kept its attempts to keep a lid on spending within the sport under the radar, with pressure reportedly being exerted on clubs and the Chinese Football Association behind the scenes.

But the posting of the comments by an unnamed spokesman in response to a journalist's questions on the website highlights the authorities' concerns at the direction in which the football industry in China is moving.

China's national team remains one of world football's greatest under-performers and moves are being made across the country to increase grassroots development by introducing football into the national school curriculum.

The rush into the sport by the country's business elite has come after Xi Jinping, a keen football fan, took over as president of the nation in 2013, having previously stated he wanted China to improve its position within the game at a global level.

Major Chinese companies have since purchased CSL clubs while others have invested in the game in Europe, with the game's governing body, FIFA, now having two Chinese companies signed on as sponsors.

However, the state of the domestic game, and in particular the rapid rise in spending, has raised concerns and the government spokesman stressed the need for a long-term plan, with clubs who operated beyond their means in danger of being closed down.

"We must take building hundred-year clubs as the goal," the spokesman said. "We will remove the seriously insolvent clubs from the professional league."