While players have been the ones completing moves and left and right to China over the past year-plus, could one of soccer’s best-known officials be on his east?
Well, according to Mark Clattenburg, it’s certainly a possibility.
The veteran Premier League referee recently gave a rare interview with the Associated Press, and while Clattenburg did state that the Chinese Super League has yet to make an offer over a move to the developing league that he would have to consider any contract that came along.
“China are certainly looking to develop their football, looking at their signings and their recruitment,” Clattenburg told The Associated Press. “If an opportunity came along — I am contracted to the Premier League — but I have to look at my long-term strategy of my career. How long can I last as a referee? I have been in the Premier League 12 years. It’s been a wonderful 12 years.
“There is no offer on the table but if they made an offer it would be under consideration. But at the moment I still enjoy working for the Premier League and UEFA.”
“Money has never been a driver as a referee … It’s about the drive of doing something different, maybe helping the recruitment,” Clattenburg said. “If it didn’t happen now I will be looking in the future at that, a bit like Howard Webb has done (in Saudi Arabia) where you are helping another country develop refereeing.
“It’s important to have the right quality of referee to go with the level of football. China is going to become a huge player in years to come … If they want to be serious about their league they are going to have to have the right setup. Refereeing is a huge part of football.”
As the CSL continues its development as an up-and-coming league, the ability to add a refereeing talent like Clattenburg would surely be the latest boost to the country’s credentials. While the additions of top of players like Carlos Tevez and Oscar are certainly nice, Clattenburg has raised himself into arguably the best official in global soccer and has had just about every honorable experience in his career.
In 2016 alone, Clattenburg headed the finals in the EURO championship, UEFA Champions League and FA Cup in addition to his regular duties in the Premier League.Follow @MattReedFutbol