Shanghai SIPG officials clash with Tianjin Quanjian counterparts over a towel during a spicy Chinese Super League encounter
Italian coach Fabio Cannavaro enraged during goalless draw on Sunday
A battle broke out over a towel and stole the limelight in Chinese Super League on Sunday when Shanghai SIPG and Tianjin Quanjian clashed.
Ambitious SIPG, second in the Super League standings, could only manage a goalless draw against visiting Tianjin, who are in third place.
After the disappointing draw, SIPG remain three points behind defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande but the highlight of a dull match was the scrap over a towel.
The trouble began when in the first half a member of the Tianjin coaching staff positioned a towel on the sidelines for South Korean midfielder Kwon Kyung-won to use to dry the ball before a throw-in.
A ball boy from the home team then removed it to the obvious annoyance of a Tianjin club official.
Watch: Shanghai SIPG v Tianjin Quanjian highlights
After a heated exchange between the two, the referee stepped in and sent the Tianjin official to the stands.
At the end of the match, a number of Tianjin players and officials took a group photo to show their discontent, claiming it was not the first time a similar incident had occurred in a game between the two rivals.
Tianjin coach Fabio Cannavaro said in his post-match media conference that he did not want to discuss the towel anymore, before adding: “no matter if it was a white towel or a black towel, it has nothing to do with soccer ... but someone tried to make it a big issue, which I couldn’t stop. I was fully focused on the match once it had started.”
The Italian manager was furious when a similar incident took place between the two sides on Thursday during their FA Cup quarter-final second leg tie when SIPG, who were trailing 3-0 after the first leg, fought back in an astounding 4-0 home win to advance to the semi-finals.
On that night, staff from both clubs clashed when a Shanghai SIPG official took away a towel laid on the ground by Tianjin in the first half. A Tianjin official stepped in to grab the towel back before another Shanghai staff member became involved.
Later, Cannavaro was held back by a member of his coaching staff as he approached the opposition technical area.
Footage also showed trouble in the stands as fans from both sides clashed at the end of the match.