Chinese Super League to kick off June 3 with virus curbs

By: AFP
Published: 07:49 PM, 23 May, 2022
Chinese Super League to kick off June 3 with virus curbs
Caption: Chinese Super League to kick off June 3 with virus curbs.
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The Chinese Super League will kick off the season on June 3, organisers said Monday, with the games expected to be played in empty stadiums due to China's tough Covid controls.

Matches between 18 teams will take place in Dalian on China's east coast as well as Haikou and Meizhou in the country's south, the Chinese Football Association said in a brief statement.

The statement did not offer details on whether fans will be allowed to watch the games. 

But Chinese sports analysts expect the matches to be played in a "closed loop" like the one used for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, where small cherry-picked crowds were invited after taking several rounds of Covid tests.

Several teams including last season's runners-up Shanghai Port and rivals Shanghai Shenhua have already arrived in Dalian and are undergoing mandatory three-week hotel quarantine periods to enter the league bubble, Chinese media reported.

Shandong Taishan are the defending champions and will be among the favourites to claim this year's title alongside Shanghai Port.

Professional football in China has been hampered by the country's zero-Covid strategy that has led to millions being locked down in cities including business hub Shanghai.

China last week pulled out of hosting the Asian Cup next year despite spending billions of dollars to build eight new stadiums and revamp two others for the event.

The national side have failed to reach this year's World Cup again and there has been an exodus of top foreign players and coaches from the country in recent seasons.

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.