East Asia China

Guangzhou Evergrande charged over banner at Asian Champions League match

Guangzhou Evergrande have been charged by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) after their fans held up a banner criticizing the Hong Kong independence movement.

The banner was unveiled during Guangzhou’s 6-0 Asian Champions League win over Hong Kong champions Eastern.

The charges relate to breaches of the ethics code and spectator misconduct.

Hong Kong was previously a British colony but was returned to China in 1997, under a promise that it would enjoy a high degree of autonomy.

Tensions between the two countries have been boiling in the past few months, which led to some Guangzhou and Eastern supporters trading words during the match.

The AFC’s ethics code says clubs could be forced to play at least two games behind closed doors over any offensive “words or actions” by their fans.

Individual supporters found guilty could be prohibited from entering stadiums for a minimum of two years.

Eastern manager Chan Yuen-ting, one of the first women to lead a professional men’s football team to a top-flight title, said she did not see the banner.

“I was focused on the game, I didn’t see what happened in the stands,” added Evergrande and former Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari.