Batista Joins Lippi as Foreign Soccer Coaches in Chinese League

Sergio Batista, who guided Argentina’s Olympic soccer team to the gold medal in Beijing four years ago, was hired as head coach of Chinese Super League team Shanghai Shenhua.

Batista, 49, will lead the team for the remaining matches of this season, Shenhua said in a statement posted on its website today, without giving contract or salary details. Shenhua is owned by billionaire Zhu Jun, chairman of Chinese online game operator and developer The9 Ltd. (NCTY)

Shenhua offered Batista a six-month contract with a team option to extend his contract for another two years, Modern Express, a newspaper run by the official Xinhua News Agency, reported today.

Batista, a member of Argentina’s 1986 World Cup-winning squad, will take over from a five-man coaching panel headed by former Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka, who moved to the club as a player in January.

China’s elite league is starting to attract top talent following corruption scandals, match-fixing and mismanagement. Guangzhou Evergrande, which won the 2011 title, hired Italy’s 2006 World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi on May 17 and also paid German champion Borussia Dortmund 8.5 million euros ($10.6 million) to acquire Paraguayan striker Lucas Barrios.

Takeshi Okada, who coached Japan to the round of 16 at the 2010 World Cup, was hired by Hangzhou Greentown in December.

Batista, who had a yearlong stint as Argentina coach after replacing Diego Maradona in July 2010, will join a team that’s ninth in the 16-team Chinese Super League standings with three victories from 12 of 30 games.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Baynes in Sydney at dbaynes@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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