Sticky tape solution showcases 'amateur' Chinese soccer
Chinese Super League (CSL) powerhouse Guangzhou Ever-grande became the butt of jokes on social media after a shirt snafu involving star defender Zhang Linpeng during their Asian Champions League round-of-16 first leg at fellow CSL side Tianjin Quanjian on Tuesday night.
Eight minutes after kickoff, Zhang had a nosebleed when competing for the ball and blood spattered onto his yellow shirt. According to world governing body FIFA's Laws of the Game, "a player is not permitted to wear clothing with blood on it."
Zhang was told to change his shirt by Uzbek referee Valentin Kovalenko, but Evergrande's backroom staff failed to immediately provide a replacement No.5 shirt for the defender. So they turned to bench player Zhang Wenzhao, who wears No.15, and covered the "1" with yellow tape. They also taped over the name "Zhang W.Z."
Zhang Linpeng continued to play in this makeshift shirt for about 15 minutes, until about the half-hour mark when club staff finally found a backup shirt.
Both sides squandered scoring chances and had to settle for a goalless draw in the end.
On Wednesday morning, the club announced that five backroom staff including General Manager Gao Han will have their pay downgraded by "three levels" for "dereliction of duty" and "damaging the club brand."
The CSL might have made global headlines in recent years for big money and big-name signings, but Guangzhou -Daily said the shirt shenanigans revealed the league's true character: "amateur."
"With such amateur logistic support, how good can the CSL really be?" the paper asked in an editorial.
Borrowing and taping the shirt took about seven minutes. The defender had to wait on the sidelines as Evergrande played a man down during that time.
"If Evergrande conceded a goal during that time, the punishment would have been more severe," @taopaowuchulu posted under the club's Twitter-like official Weibo account.
Some wondered about the tape.
"How did they find yellow tape immediately? Did they premeditate the incident?" posted @Por_Los_Colores.
One fan suggested not replacing the shirt.
"Why didn't he simply cover the blood on his shirt with the yellow tape?" asked @JIANGwk on soccer site Dongqiudi.
Evergrande, who have won a record seven consecutive CSl titles, are now fourth in the domestic league after nine rounds. Although they are two points behind leaders Shanghai SIPG, many fans are not satisfied with Fabio Cannavaro's team.
"Please prevent such cases in the future. We don't want to see such a team with so many problems. I really miss the Evergrande that used to be well managed and performing well," pleaded @whywhyblog.
The 2013 and 2015 Asian Champions League winners will host -Quanjian in the return leg next week.