The alleged racist incident during a match in the Chinese Super League has ignited heated online discussions, with thousands of soccer fans urging China's sports authorities to seriously investigate the incident.
When the Saturday match reached the 78-minute mark, Shanghai Shenhua player Demba Ba and Changchun Yatai player Zhang Li had altercation, news site sina.com reported.
Ba, a former Chelsea forward from Senegal, was reportedly told, You Black, news site sina.com reported, citing an unnamed source from Shanghai Shenhua.
The international community is against insulting statements against "black athletes," Wu Jingui, coach of Shanghai Shenhua, said at a post-match press conference, according to the club's website.
Wu said that discrimination should not be allowed as China's super league has several players from different races.
Shanghai Shenhua said it will appeal to the Chinese Football Association (CFA), sina.com reported.
The two clubs have not replied to interview requests from the Global Times as of press time.
Ma Yue, spokesperson of Shanghai Shenhua, posted a photo with "SAY NO TO RACISM" on his Sina Weibo account Saturday night.
The hashtag #Say No To Racism has received 8.2 million page views on Sina Weibo as of press time, with comments urging the CFA to seriously investigate the incident.
The incident is rare in China's soccer sector, and China's sports authority and soccer fans will not tolerate such behavior, Wang Dazhao, a Beijing-based soccer commentator, told the Global Times. "It's about protecting healthy sports development," Wang said.
The CFA by-laws state that any racist, gender, religious, language or political discrimination is not allowed.
The by-laws, revised in 2017, added that such behavior would lead to suspensions or disqualifications in membership.
"Anti-racism is a clear and basic rule in international sports circles. However, unlike the US or Europe that have a long experiences in dealing with immigrant issues and takes racism as a red line, China is comparatively backward in terms of racism awareness," Zhu Wei, a professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times.
"Even in developed regions or places that have a large foreign population, racism is not a frequently discussed issue in China," said Zhu, adding that the country should enhance its awareness as it enjoys a higher international reputation and interactions.
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