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Shenhua fans rocked by CFA penalties

Updated: 2013-02-20 07:51
By Wang Zhenghua in Shanghai ( China Daily)

Shenhua fans rocked by CFA penalties

Supporters of Shanghai Shenhua were stunned as the club's 2003 Chinese first division title was stripped, while the club's former ownership has yet to provide a response to the penalties meted out by the Chinese Football Association for a massive match-fixing scandal a decade ago.

After a three-year probe, the CFA penalized the Shanghai club on Monday with sanctions including a 1 million yuan ($158,000) fine, the stripping of its 2003 title and a six-point deduction from next season's Chinese Super League campaign. A number of other clubs and dozens of individuals were also punished.

Shenhua spokesman Ma Yue said the penalties had been reported to the club's former shareholders, five State-owned enterprises.

Zhu Jun, the biggest Shenhua shareholder who took charge of the team in 2007, called for a united club.

"Between the old and new (shareholders), we used to be full of conflict and accuse each other," he said on his micro blog on Tuesday. "But when the penalties came, we all sighed. We are all related to Shenhua, and no matter if it's the past or today, no matter how difficult or wronged we are, we have to carry on."

Other officials at Shenhua said they were appalled by the punishment, especially the deduction of six points next season.

The club finished ninth in the 16-team league last season with 38 points. The club has also been weakened by the departures of former Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka and Cote d'Ivoire forward Didier Drogba.

"We never expected it," said Xu Wei, deputy head of the team, who was summoned to Beijing for talks with CFA officials before the penalties were announced.

"If we knew there would have been a deduction of points, no matter how many, we would not have left (Beijing) and we will now file an appeal," he said.

But for the tens of thousands of fans in Shanghai the biggest loss is the 2003 title.

"The title represents the past glory of Shenhua and it is so important to the club and its fans," Jin Yao, head of Shanghai BlueBoys Supporters Club, one of Shenhua's largest fan associations, said.

The deduction of six points in the coming season was not necessarily a bad thing, he said. "By transforming pressure to motivation, it may press Shenhua to play to its best. After all, spirit is more important than capability on the field."

Ji Yuyang, a senior sports journalist at Shanghai-based Oriental Sports Daily, called the penalty biased and unfair.

"There are so many clubs involved in the scandal, but why are only Shenhua and (Tianjin) Teda stripped of titles and given points deductions?" he said.

For instance, Shandong Luneng, also involved in the bribing of former CFA officials, was issued a fine of 1 million yuan but received no further sanctions.

Jin also called for a universal standard when handing out penalties and for a self-examination of Chinese soccer's ruling body.

"Yes, as an organization, Shenhua has been given a six-point deduction. But the Chinese Football Association is also deeply involved in the scandal," he said.

"Apart from penalties given to its former head, how many points should be deducted from the association for its role in the scandal?"