Brazilian star Oscar says he would play for China
Former Chelsea attacking midfielder Oscar says he would be willing to ditch his Brazilian passport to play for China — if FIFA changed its rules.
Oscar, who moved from the English Premier League to Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG for a still-Asian-record 60 million euros (US$70.51 million) in January 2017, made the last of his 48 appearances for Brazil in 2015.
Under current rules, the 28-year-old cannot switch to play for another country because he featured for Brazil in official competition, including the 2014 World Cup in his homeland.
Asked by state broadcaster CGTN if he would consider playing for China if the naturalization rules changed, Oscar replied: "I can think about it because, as I said, it's difficult to go to the Brazilian national team now because I'm here.
"But in China everyone sees how good I play so if in the end the China national team needs a good midfielder, I think I can help if they change.
"I like China but the players now, if they change the nationality to go to China, they (the team) can do better."
As a quick-fix to boost its Qatar 2022 World Cup hopes, China last year began naturalizing a few players who had no family links to the world's most populous country.
The first was Brazil-born striker Elkeson, 31, who is now known as Ai Kesen and has played four times for China, scoring three goals. At least two other Brazilians are believed to have been naturalized since.
Oscar has been one of the top players in the CSL since arriving from Chelsea and topped the assists charts over the past two seasons.
SIPG began its CSL campaign, delayed and revamped due to the COVID-19 outbreak, against Tianjin Teda on Monday in Suzhou, neighboring Jiangsu Province.
The 2018 CSL champion won 3-1, with new signing Ricardo Lopes scoring a brace.
Guangzhou Evergrande began the defense of its CSL title with a 2-0 victory against Shanghai Greenland Shenhua on Saturday.
Shenzhen FC defeated Guangzhou R&F 3-0 on Sunday to climb above Evergrande on goal difference in the league's Dalian hub in northeast China.
Dalian Pro, coached by Spaniard Rafael Benitez, got off to a disappointing start with a 2-3 defeat by Shandong Luneng, while Jiangsu Suning pipped Henan Jianye 4-3.
In the Suzhou hub, there were wins over the weekend for Wuhan Zall and Beijing Guoan while Hebei China Fortune was held 2-2 by Shijiazhuang Ever Bright.
Meanwhile, Chinese Football Association President Chen Xuyuan has expressed concerns that any lapses in virus control measures could lead to ruinous consequences for the CSL campaign.
The CSL new season, delayed for over five months due to the COVID-19 outbreak, kicked off on Saturday amid strict anti-virus restrictions.
The 16 teams are split into two groups, one based in Dalian and the other in Suzhou, to play a tournament-style league behind closed doors. Players, coaches and other working staff are confined to a sealed-off area until September 28 when the first phase of the league ends.
Chen, the mastermind behind the two-city scheme, said he was alarmed at news that the Chinese naturalized player Ricardo Goulart, who recently joined Hebei China Fortune on loan from Evergrande, was found to have mixed with fans for photo-taking without wearing a face mask on Friday, two days after a new confirmed COVID-19 case was detected in Dalian.
"This accident has exposed the lapse in our management," Chen told Xinhua.
"When Goulart took pictures, he was inside the fenced-off area, but the fans could still approach him. The problem lies in the fencing which fails to separate the player far enough from the fans," he said.
"As Goulart's team had to go to a reserved field for training outside the sealed-off area, the fencing was temporarily fixed. But the organizers did not pay enough attention to it. It is a small detail, but one that could lead to serious results (when overlooked).
"These kinds of things can happen many times every day. We cannot afford any lapses. I'm under huge pressure to make sure these small details can be dealt with properly. This is also a great test for our league's management," the CFA president said.
Brazil-born Goulart has reportedly been fined and warned about his action under relevant stipulations drafted by the CFA for the revamped league.