Eastern coach ‘slammed in the face’ during controversial AFC Champions League clash with Guangzhou Evergrande
Executive director Peter Leung confirms Hong Kong Premier League side will submit report to Asian Football Confederation following 6-0 defeat at Mong Kok Stadium on Tuesday
Eastern executive director Peter Leung Shou-chi claims one of their coaches was “slammed in the face by people from Evergrande” during Tuesday’s controversial AFC Champions League group stage encounter with Chinese Super League visitors Guangzhou at Mong Kok Stadium.
Two-time AFC Champions League winners Guangzhou eased to a 6-0 win in the group G tie, but off the field tempers flared as visiting fans unfurled a banner saying “annihilate British dogs, extinguish Hong Kong independence poison” in the closing stages.
Leung, who has confirmed Eastern will submit a report to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), has now revealed details of pushing and shoving involving players and coaching staff from both sides in the tunnel at half-time when Guangzhou were leading 2-0.
Reports in China have suggested Eastern’s Brazilian Diego Eli and compatriot Paulinho from Guangzhou, who scored twice, were two of the players involved.
“We are very disappointed to see things like this happen as it brings bad reputation to the game,” said Leung.
“We were greatly concerned about the matches against Guangzhou after the draw was made and put in place a lot measures, but still some other things were out of our control.
“We don’t know what kind of sanctions the governing body will apply after reading the report. We do what the rules require us to do.”
Chinese fans land Guangzhou Evergrande in hot water for ‘annihilate British dogs, extinguish Hong Kong independence poison’ banner
Fans also wrote on Eastern’s social media accounts requesting the AFC investigate the incidents, which were not reported by major mainland sports websites, including Sina sports and Tangxun Sports.
“It’s nothing special. The players of both sides were emotionally out of control, this is very normal, nothing else happened,” said Guangzhou’s Brazilian striker Alan, who also scored twice.
— Football in HK (@offsideHK) April 25, 2017
The banner incident will almost certainly result in a sanction from the AFC, with the regional governing body stating in their safety and security regulations under the political action section that “the promotion or announcement, by any means, of political messages or of any other political actions inside or in the immediate vicinity of the stadium is strictly prohibited before, during and after the match”.
A Hong Kong Football Association source confirmed after the game “we informed the match commissioner of the banner content, and he has put it in his report to the AFC”.
Angry Eastern fans from the nearby stand ran over and tried to confront the visiting supporters, but were stopped by security.
Guangzhou fell foul of the AFC’s marketing and media regulations in 2015 following the second leg of their Champions League final against visitors Al Ahli of the United Arab Emirates.
The Chinese Super League side were fined US$160,000 and forced to play one game behind closed doors after numerous breaches including “infringing upon the commercial rights of AFC sponsors” and “significant safety and security failures”.
The Chinese Football Association also received a fine of US$10,000.
The club were also ordered to pay almost US$4 million to automaker Dongfeng Nissan for failing to wear kit sponsored by the company in the 2015 second leg against Al Ahli, which they won 1-0 to win a second Champions League title in three years.
Watch: Eastern v Guangzhou Evergrande highlights