Guangzhou Evergrande have escaped with a slap on the wrist after their fans displayed an offensive banner in a match in Hong Kong last month.
The Chinese champions received a fine of US$22,500 and a suspended two-match stadium ban after their supporters unfurled a banner reading “Annihilate British dogs, extinguish Hong Kong [independence] poison” at Mong Kok Stadium against HK champions Eastern last month.
The club was found guilty of discrimination and spectator misconduct under the Asian Football Confederation’s rules.
Guangzhou Evergrande fans say it wasn’t them who displayed offensive banner in Hong Kong, and plead ‘don’t hurt the feelings’ of genuine supporters
“In the AFC Champions League, Guangzhou Evergrande were found to have violated Article 58 and Article 65 of the AFC Disciplinary and Ethics Code relating to the actions of away supporters at the match Eastern SC (HKG) vs Guangzhou Evergrande on April 25,” said an AFC statement.
“Away supporters displayed a banner depicting a discriminatory message relating to national origin and political opinion.
“Guangzhou Evergrande were ordered to play two future matches in AFC club competitions which they host in China PR without spectators, with both matches suspended for a probationary period of two years. They were also fined USD22,500.”
Guangzhou Evergrande fans were performing patriotic duty by displaying insulting banner in Hong Kong, say China netizens
If there is a further breach of the rules within the probationary period, the stadium ban comes into effect. Guangzhou were warned that a repeat violation will lead to more severe punishment.
Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale were fined US$15,000 and given a one-match suspended ban after fans displayed Japan’s war-time flag against South Korea’s Suwon Bluewings, while Lebanon’s Nejmeh SC were also punished for spectator misconduct.
The Eastern-Guangzhou match was the latest example of political tensions between Hong Kong and mainland China being played out in the stands of Mong Kok stadium.
The vast majority of commenters on Chinese social media seemed hugely supportive of the banner, arguing the fans were merely performing their patriotic duty after Eastern fans waved a colonial Hong Kong flag.