Fabio Cannavaro steps down as Guangzhou coach

GUANGZHOU, China (AP) — Fabio Cannavaro has left his position as coach of troubled Chinese powerhouse Guangzhou FC, the club announced Tuesday.

Cannavaro, who was captain of Italy’s World Cup winning team in 2006, started his second spell in charge of Guangzhou in 2017 and delivered the Chinese Super League title two years later.

But the 48-year-old former Juventus and Real Madrid defender did not return to China last week, leading to speculation about his future with the club, which is owned by Evergrande. The embattled real estate company is struggling to avoid a default on billions of dollars of debt.

“We would like to thank Fabio Cannavaro for all of his effort and contribution to Guangzhou and wish him all the best in the future,” the club said in a statement on its website.

Cannavaro coached the team to second-place finishes in 2018 and 2020.

It has been a difficult year in the Chinese Super League, which made international headlines over the past decade as clubs like Guangzhou spent big on foreign players such as Brazilian midfielder Paulinho and World Cup winning coaches Marcello Lippi of Italy and Luiz Felipe Scolari of Brazil.

Guangzhou, with eight titles in the past decade, had to release Paulinho and his compatriot Talisca in the summer as they could not enter China due to travel restrictions. The club was Asian champion in 2013 and 2015.

In February, champion Jiangsu FC ceased operations due to losses incurred by owner Suning, the retail group that is also the majority shareholder of Italian giant Inter Milan.

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