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Fan fury as Chinese football clubs told to change names


Shanghai (AFP) – Next season’s Chinese Super League will take on a new look after the 16 teams were told to drop the corporate part of their names, infuriating many fans.

The Chinese Football Association (CFA) is making good on its order that clubs must remove references to investors and the companies that own them and instead adopt “neutral” names, state media says.

The move, part of wide-scale reform plans for football in China stretching back to 2015, will have a major impact when the new campaign kicks off in the spring and could affect most of the CSL teams.

New champions Jiangsu Suning, Fabio Cannavaro’s dethroned Guangzhou Evergrande and Oscar’s Shanghai SIPG are prime among those likely to have to change their names.

Suning is a retail giant in China, Evergrande is one of China’s largest property developers and SIPG is Shanghai International Port Group.

Tianjin Teda and title challengers Beijing Guoan will also fall victim to the name switch, the Tianjin Daily newspaper reported on Thursday.

“If there is no major change, the name ‘Teda’ will become history,” it said.

“The club’s recent communication with the Chinese Football Association and the result of its reasonable efforts (to keep the name) are not optimistic.”

The club on China’s northeast coast has had “Teda” — a local state-owned enterprise — in its name since 1998.

Sam Wang, a Tianjin Teda supporter, was irate.

“Company-based clubs have been part of our lives for generations,” he said.

“It’s just so sad that you hear it in the morning that the FA will not allow that name to exist anymore.”

Zhu Fulei said that he was “so angry and sad” that his team Wuhan Zall will soon be known as something else.

“This name has been with us for so many years. Whether old or young, we call the team this name every day,” said the 19-year-old.

Some clubs are canvassing the opinions of supporters.

Guangzhou R&F — the latter is the name of a major real-estate developer — have asked fans on the Twitter-like Weibo what they should instead be called next season.

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