BEIJING - The Chinese Football Association (CFA) announced the relaunch of the CFA Cup on Friday in Beijing.
Thirty teams - 16 Chinese Super League squads and 14 League One lineups - will take part in the 2011 tournament.
The winner of the CFA Cup will be awarded a berth in the AFC Champions League, which provides a shortcut for low-tier teams to compete in the continent's most prestigious tournament.
Well-performed third-tier teams, and grassroots squads from university and amateur leagues will be involved in the tournament from 2012. Initially launched in 1984, the CFA Cup was canceled in 2007 due to a schedule clash with Olympic Games preliminaries and a lack of sponsorship.
To boost the sport's influence domestically and offer more players opportunities to compete against the top teams, the CFA has been preparing to restart the tournament since last year and successfully attracted sponsorship from Japanese company Toshiba and US sportswear brand Nike.
A short opening ceremony will be held at Shanghai Yuanshen Stadium on May 4, followed by a first-round clash between Shanghai East Asia and Hubei Zhongbo. The final will be staged on Dec 4.
The six-round tournament will use a knockout system. Penalty shootouts will decide the winner if teams finish level after 90 minutes. While in the final, the teams will have to play 30 minutes of extra time after a 90-minute draw, before moving to a penalty shootout if the scores are still level.
Six top-tier teams (last season's bottom teams in Super League) and 14 second-tier teams will participate in the first round starting on May 4. Ten first-round winners, together with six Super League teams, ranked from fifth to tenth last season, will play the second round on May 11 and 12.
Four AFC Champions League clubs - Shangdong Luneng, Tianjin Teda, Shanghai Shenhua and Hangzhou Green Town - will directly move to the quarterfinals in November.
(China Daily 04/09/2011 page16)