Italian Serie A

Furious Inter Milan fans round on Chinese owner Suning as disastrous Serie A form continues

Supporters are angered by a perceived lack of investment by the Chinese owners who promised to spend money on the club when they announced the takeover in 2016

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 February, 2018, 11:37am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 February, 2018, 9:04pm

Supporters of Inter Milan were furious on Sunday after another defeat meant they have won just one game out of their last 12 in all competitions, and a section of fans aimed their ire at the club’s Chinese owners Suning.

A 2-0 loss to mid-table Genoa meant the club fell 18 points behind Italian Sere A leaders Napoli and sees them facing a battle to ensure they return to Europe’s top table next season by qualifying for the Uefa Champions League.

Later on Sunday, Italian media reported a “fan’s revolt” was brewing online with Nerazurri supporters taking to social networks to vent their anger.

“Soulless overseas corporations alone will never care about what happens at Inter,” read one tweet which also contained the hashtag: “SuningOut”, a sentiment that has gained a lot of support in recent days.

Most complaints online appear to revolve around a perceived lack of investment by the club’s wealthy Chinese owners.

Retail giant Suning completed a protracted purchase of the club in June 2016 when they paid 270 million (HK$2.63 billion, US$335.6 million) for the storied Italian club.

Internazionale have long been considered one of the giants of European football having won the Serie A title 18 times and the Uefa Champions League on three occasions. However, they have struggled both domestically and in Europe in recent years and have finished seventh, fourth, eighth, fifth and ninth in the last five Italian league campaigns.

Chinese retail giant Suning buys Inter Milan for 270 million

Their most recent league title came in 2010, the same year they last triumphed in the Champions League.

Suning began their ownership of the club offering promises to restore the club to former glories amid a glut of Chinese moves into European soccer ownership.

“We’ll make Inter great again, continuing the tradition and the success achieved under the [former owners] Moratti family,” said Zhang Jindong, Suning’s chairman at a Nanjing media conference after the deal was announced.

“Suning will inject a steady stream of capital investment in Inter Milan, which will help it attract more talented players worldwide to once again win glory with strong backing,” Zhang added.

Chinese state TV asks: did Suning buy Inter Milan to launder money?

The club spent 80.6 million last summer, but failed to sign any long-term reinforcements during the winter transfer window in the midst of a dreadful downturn in form that threatened to derail their season. They also recouped 64.5 million in transfer fees this season.

In Suning’s first season in charge of the club, Inter spent 157.9 million.

Italy’s reported that Inter fans have also criticised Steven Zhang, board member and 26-year-old son of the club’s president. He appeared on CNBC last year urging fans to have patience with the new owners.

Suning’s ownership of the club was under the spotlight in July last year when Chinese state TV questioned the motives of the acquisition.

A documentary aired on CCTV asked whether Chinese conglomerates were taking over loss-making clubs in order to launder money.