High-profile foreign players who are planning to come to China to make their basketball fortunes may have to choose another destination.
The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) on Wednesday announced the monthly salary of foreign players was not allowed to go above $60,000, the first time a cap had been placed on players' incomes.
The rule extends to the national team where the players and coaches cannot earn more than 1 million yuan ($146,000) per annum. The CBA also said the total salary for players and coaches should be below 55 percent of a club's revenue. Chinese club players will also feel the pinch as their yearly income will not exceed 300,000 yuan ($44,000).
Reports claim the CBA's new rules have come into effect as it was rumored some big-spending clubs were ready to pay $1 million to attract world-class players for the new season. Another reason touted is that some conservative officials believe the massive import of overseas players last season decreased local players' playing time on the court.
"We are going to develop the CBA's professionalism, regulate CBA clubs' management and marketing and control their revenue," said a CBA statement. "We also hope to protect the interest of clubs, players as well as coaches."
The CBA's new rules have already been criticized by some media as "going against professionalism".
"There is a 700,000 yuan gap between a national team player and a club player. It's ridiculous," said the Hangzhou Daily. "It will only produce mess among players and clubs."
There is also increasing concern that young players might lose interest in playing professional basketball.
China's basketball has slumped since the national team's quarterfinal finish at last year's Beijing Olympic Games.