HONG KONG - Hong Kong punters will not be able to bet on Chinese Super League matches, the city's Jockey Club said Tuesday, hinting at fears over its "transparency" and "integrity".
Football in China has long suffered from endemic corruption, with a history of match-rigging and bribery, but authorities have sought to clean up the game in recent years.
The cash-rich league wrapped up a record spending spree on Friday after transfers worth a world-beating 331 million euros ($365 million) sent the sport into a spin.
High profile transfers included Jiangsu Suning's signing of Brazilian Alex Teixeira for 50 million euros and Guangzhou Evergrande's purchase of Atletico Madrid's Colombian forward Jackson Martinez for 42 million euros.
But the Hong Kong Jockey Club, the official gambling operator in the southern Chinese city, said it does not plan to offer bets for CSL matches.
"During the match selection process, the club considers a number of important factors including information transparency, integrity and competitiveness of football matches," a Hong Kong Jockey Club spokesperson said in an email statement sent Tuesday.
The spokesperson added that the Club had to "safeguard the interests" of its customers.
The high-profile hiring of top players for outlandish sums has suddenly put the Chinese Super League on the map at a time when President Xi Jinping is pushing hard to turn China into a footballing power.
China's spending in the league's January-February window outstripped the English Premier League's 253-million-euro outlay in January, according to figures compiled by industry website Transfermarkt.
The country is also preparing to bid for the 2023 Asian Cup, the continent's biggest football championship.