The Chinese soccer governing body Chinese Football Association (CFA) called a halt to Hong Kong player Yapp Hung-fai's transfer to Guizhou Renhe Football Club on Thursday, according to Monday's Soccer News newspaper.
Yapp, a goalkeeper of South China Athletic Association of Hong Kong, was keen to join Guizhou in this summer's transfer window, from July 5 to Sunday. He became angered after being informed the transfer was called off, posting on his Sina Weibo, "To my great disappointment, a clause which didn't exist before in the provision was added."
In the reply to his transfer application, the CFA amended a clause in the regulations regarding transfer of players from Hong Kong, Macao and Chinese Taipei to state that his request was rejected as he does not satisfy "the transfer qualifications," although the wording is somewhat ambiguous.
The CFA announced in 2001 that "foreign" goalkeepers were restricted to play in Chinese soccer league matches in order to aid the development of domestic goalkeepers. "Foreign" here refers to players not registered in the CFA, while Yapp is registered in the Hong Kong Football Association.
However, outfield players from Hong Kong, Macao and Chinese Taipei are on a par with those from the Chinese mainland in the Chinese Super League (CSL), as some Hong Kong players including Chan Siu-ki, Leung Chun-pong, Lee Chi-ho and Ng Wai-chiu have already played in the league.
But those players are regarded as "foreign" players in inter-Asian club games by the Asian Football Confederation.
The CFA said Monday that players who are not registered in the CFA are not counted as domestic players.
Yapp responded Monday that he has Chinese nationality and deserves to play in the CSL.
"I know the distinction between domestic players and foreign players lies in where a player is registered, but the regulation says players from Hong Kong, Macao and Chinese Taipei are not considered foreigners in the CSL," Yapp said Monday.
Former Hong Kong goalkeeper Fan Chun-yip, currently Yapp's coach, said Monday that the CFA is irresponsible and has not given a convincing reason for their rejection.
"The CFA's decision on Yapp was really a big blow to Hong Kong soccer," Fan said. "Players of other positions can join the CSL whereas goalkeepers can't, so then will anyone in Hong Kong love to stand in front of the goal?"
Phone calls to Guizhou Renhe Football Club and the CFA went unanswered on Tuesday.