[NYT] Chinese soccer teams raid South Korean clubs for talent

December 28, 2015

Kim Young-gwon, left, was a starter for the South Korean World Cup team in 2014. (Yonhap)

Kim Young-gwon, left, was a starter for the South Korean World Cup team in 2014. (Yonhap)

[THE NEW YORK TIMES] — The South Korean soccer league is the most successful in Asia, with its clubs winning a combined total of 10 continental championships, five more than any other country.

But the last title came in 2012, and a new end-of-season tradition is developing in its place. As soon as the last ball has been kicked, K-League clubs are becoming increasingly accustomed to dealing with wealthy Chinese rivals on the hunt for new players.

South Korean clubs are unable to compete financially with their newly rich counterparts in China. Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao, owned by the property developers Evergrande and the founder of Alibaba, one of China’s biggest e-commerce companies, started the spending in 2010.

Since then the club has invested over $150 million on players and coaches. The reward has been five consecutive domestic titles and, on Nov. 21, the team, led by 2002 World Cup winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, won its second Asian Champions League title in three years.

Encouraged by a government that wants to see China start punching its weight after years of underachievement in the global game, other investors have become involved in Chinese teams and are spending big in a bid to catch the dominant Guangzhou franchise.

Recruiting from the K-League has proved to be an easy way to start. [READ MORE]

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