Brazilian forward Ricardo Goulart, who took Chinese citizenship in a bid to help his adopted country reach the World Cup, has terminated his contract with Chinese Super League club Guangzhou FC and returned to South America.
Goulart was one of five Brazilian players who took Chinese citizenship in 2019 but a loan spell at Palmeiras that same year has prevented him from fulfilling FIFA’s requirements for a nationality switch.
The 30-year-old won three CSL titles and the Asian Champions League with Guangzhou FC but departs a club facing serious financial difficulties as its owners, real estate giants Evergrande, struggle with a liquidity crisis.
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“It was the best choice to terminate the contract, both for me and the club,” Goulart told Xinhua news agency as he departed Guangzhou Baiyun airport with his family on Friday.
“I want to say thank you to all my fans in China, their support and love will always accompany me in the future.”
Italian World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro walked away from his position as Guangzhou FC’s coach “by mutual consent” in September.
Goulart, known in China as Gao Late, played one non-competitive international for Brazil in 2014 and would not have qualified to play for his adopted country under residency rules until 2025 because of the Palmeiras loan spell.
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Brazilian-born naturalised players Alan Carvalho, Elkeson and Aloisio all featured in China’s 1-1 draw against Oman on Thursday, which delivered another blow to the country’s hopes of qualifying for next year’s World Cup finals in Qatar.
Coach Li Tie came under fire for his decision to substitute striker Aloisio in the second half shortly before Oman equalised to leave China fifth in Asian qualifying Group B with five matches to play. The top two in the group qualify for Qatar.
China has appeared only once at the World Cup finals in 2002, when it finished bottom of its group after losing all three games without scoring a goal.