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AFC Champions League

Guangzhou charged with discrimination for fans’ offensive banner abusing ‘Hong Kong dogs’

Chinese champions could have to play matches behind closed doors and face fine

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 April, 2017, 4:25pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 April, 2017, 10:10pm

Guangzhou Evergrande could have to play matches behind closed doors and face a fine of at least US$12,000 after being charged with discrimination and spectator misconduct by the Asian Football Confederation for the offensive banner that marred their win over Eastern in Hong Kong.

The Chinese champions’ fans unfurled a banner in Chinese reading “Annihilate British dogs, Extinguish Hong Kong independence poison” late in the game during their 6-0 win at Mong Kok Stadium.

“The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has charged three clubs under the AFC Disciplinary and Ethics Code with offences involving supporters during the latest round of the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup matches,” said a statement.

“In the AFC Champions League, Guangzhou Evergrande (China PR) have been charged under Article 58 for discrimination and Article 65 relating spectator misconduct at their match against Eastern SC in Hong Kong on Tuesday evening.”

Article 58 of the AFC’s rule book says “Anyone who offends the dignity of a person or group of persons through contemptuous, discriminatory or denigratory words or actions concerning race, skin colour, gender, language, religion, political opinion, wealth, birth, sexual orientation, or ethnic, national, or social origin has committed an offence.”

The punishment for such an offence is at least two matches without fans and a fine of at least US$10,000. If the fans can be identified, they could be banned for two years.

Under article 65, which concerns spectator behaviour, Guangzhou could face a further fine of US$2,000.

Officials at Eastern and the Hong Kong Football Association did not want to comment.

Kawasaki Frontale of Japan and Lebanese side Nejmeh SC were also charged for incidents in their games.

Chinese fans land Guangzhou Evergrande in hot water for ‘annihilate British dogs, extinguish Hong Kong independence poison’ banner

Meanwhile, Hong Kong Football Association director Calvin Pui Kwan-kay said he would “laugh off” the offensive banner.

“Some people have different views, but I don’t support this, because it will increase tensions between Chinese and Hong Kong fans,” he told Apple Daily.

“After all, it is a provocative banner.”

Tensions between mainland China and Hong Kong have been played out in the football stands in recent years and Tuesday’s Champions League game was no different.

Eastern director Peter Leung Shou-chi said one of the team’s coaches was “slammed in the face” during an altercation in the tunnel at half-time in the game said to involve former Spurs player Paulinho and Eastern’s Diego Eli, another Brazilian.

In the stands, Hong Kong fans were already angered after supporters from nearby Guangzhou flooded the ticket sales system to buy briefs intended for Eastern fans.

Eastern coach ‘slammed in the face’ during controversial AFC Champions League clash with Guangzhou Evergrande

They were specially accommodated in a larger-than-usual away section for the game, and wound up sections of the Hong Kong crowd by regularly singing China’s national anthem.

One fan flew a colonial-era Hong Kong flag with the Union Jack on it, an act that has attracted much ire among some mainland football fans, while pictures of a Guangzhou shirt in a urinal was also doing the rounds on Chinese social media.

Pictures of the offensive banner were nowhere to be seen on China’s main news portals.

Sina.com, one of China’s most popular portals, was one of the few to mention the incident, limiting its description to the following: “Due to well-known reasons in recent years, individual fans of Guangzhou Evergrande displayed a political slogan”.