Ambulance farce another lowlight in Chinese Super League’s failings after week of racism allegations and US$11.6m contract dispute

Governing body and clubs leave a lot to be desired, but Wu Lei stunner and Guangzhou Evergrande upset mean the title race is well worth watching

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 August, 2018, 2:17pm
UPDATED : Monday, 13 August, 2018, 8:57pm

The Chinese Super League rarely does itself any favours.

Last week there was a race storm – which has not yet gone away – and this week it was another failure in the league’s duty of care for its players.

In Saturday evening’s game between Changchun Yatai and Guangzhou Evergrande there was a clash of heads seconds after kick off and the home side’s Wang Shouting came off worst.

The physios decided he needed the medics.

And that’s where it started to go wrong.

While the players and officials frantically waved them on, it became a farce when the medical personnel could not open the door of the ambulance.

Wang came round in the minute or so it took for them to outwit the back door and he was stretchered off before being driven to hospital.

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Chinese social media was outraged, pouring scorn on the authorities for the delay and the ill preparation of the pitchside medics.

Evergrande coach Fabio Cannavaro didn’t hold back either, calling on the authorities to take players’ lives more seriously.

Thankfully, Wang was not seriously injured but it could have been much, much worse.

Chieck Tiote collapsed and died in a training session with Beijing Enterprise last June, while earlier this season Dalian Yifang’s Nico Gaitan was knocked out cold in a game against Beijing Guoan with teammate Yannick Carrasco applying immediate first aid.

Hopefully, the warning is heeded and medical staff are better prepared because the alternative is not worth considering.

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Changchun have become some kind of patient zero for the league’s ills.

Last week the flashpoint was Zhang Li’s alleged racial abuse of Shanghai Shenhua’s Demba Ba, news of which went round the world.

The Chinese Football Association acted swiftly, launching an investigation into the incident on Monday and then banning Zhang on Friday.

However, the six-game suspension and a fine of HK$48,000 was not for racially abusing the Senegal striker but for the much vaguer claim that he “interfered with the normal order of the game, causing chaos and adverse social impact”.

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The authorities ducked out of dealing with the rather serious business of alleged racial abuse.

Understandable to some extent, such charges are notoriously hard to prove and the global game has struggled to deal with racism to any real degree, but it’s not a great look.

Nor is the fact that Zhang responded to his punishment, thanking the CFA for its “fairness” via his Sina Weibo account.

Yatai fans will likely be happy, as they turned up to protest the accusation, showing loyalty to the player and the club, who had closed ranks and admitted nothing more than an unnamed player using insulting language towards Ba.

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It’s all rather unsatisfactory and the debate to the rights and wrongs of what the CFA has done will rage on, but at least it has been dealt with.

The CFA won’t lose any sleep over its solution and, in fairness, it is going to have another busy week in the office.

Sunday’s game between Beijing Renhe and Tianjin Quanjian saw a filthy off-the-ball elbow that is sure to result in a few games of quiet reflection from the sidelines.

It all serves to remind you that as seriously as we take football, it is only a game but what a game it can be.

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That Beijing-Tianjin derby was a 3-3 thriller, while the Changchun game ended in a surprise 3-2 comeback win for the hosts to leave the champions six points off top spot and keep the title race wide open.

Wins by Beijing Guoan, Shandong Luneng and Shanghai SIPG all saw to that, the latter winning 2-0 in the Shanghai derby with the first goal from Wu Lei a corker, volleying in from an Oscar free kick.

That strike also saw him take the lead for CSL record scorer at 89.

It was not a full house at Shanghai Stadium though. An official attendance of 25,378 would and should have been much bigger if tickets were more readily available.

Ticketing for CSL games is a lottery, if lottery tickets were only available from sponsors and entrepreneurial grandmas who act as touts.

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A number of factors, such as police and the club’s policy, means that tickets are not necessarily readily available for home fans let alone away fans.

It’s the opposite of transparent and typical of the Chinese game at every turn.

While the CFA bans are seemingly random numbers generated for random charges and fans have little clue how to get into the grounds, the players are in the dark as to their contracts.

Tianjin Quanjian’s Anthony Modeste is in a dispute with his club over unpaid wages.

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The club and the player apparently have different contracts – no surprises for guessing which will hold up in court – and the striker wants what he thinks he is owed (US$11.6 million) or to force a move away.

Rumours abound that he will return to Germany before the end of the month (and the transfer window) and the Frenchman did not feature in Sunday’s game.

You can’t say it’s not interesting.