Chinese football: Four officials attacked after controversial draw

Chinese football fans
Support continues to grow as top names join Chinese football but the sport still suffers from controversy

Four match officials have been attacked after a controversial draw in Chinese football's second division on Saturday.

Baoding Rongda were leading 2-1 when referee Huang Xiang awarded visitors Wuhan Zall a penalty during seven minutes of stoppage time.

The referee was confronted by players and staff at the final whistle, fans threw objects and there was a power cut at the stadium, Chinese media reports.

Police and the Chinese Football Association (CFA) are investigating.

The officials had to be escorted off the pitch by security staff.

Baoding chairman Meng Yongli burst into tears in front of journalists after the match, alleging his side had been cheated out of the win. He gathered reporters on the pitch to announce he was pulling the team out of China League One, before quitting as chairman hours later, citing "personal reasons".

The club, which are based to the south west of Beijing and are at the bottom of the second tier, subsequently apologised and said they had no intention of leaving the competition.

The CFA said in a statement: "We would like the club to express its opinion in a calm manner. In the meantime we call on the fans to remain rational and restrained."

Controversy in Chinese football

Shanghai SIPG and Guangzhou R&F
Oscar was one of four players banned following the brawl between Shanghai SIPG (red shirts) and Guangzhou R&F

The CFA has issued a series of lengthy bans in to star names including former Chelsea midfielder Oscar, who plays for Shanghai SIPG.

He sparked a mass brawl during a match in China's Super League.

Chinese football also has a history of controversy involving referees and officials.

In 2009, authorities launched a high-profile crackdown on corruption in the sport, leading to dozens of arrests and prison sentences.

One of China's top referees, Lu Jun, was jailed in 2012 after taking bribes to fix matches.

Think you've heard 'Baoding' before?

Baoding is not just known for the football club.

The Chinese stress balls, Baoding balls, were first made in the city and continue to be made there today.

The balls are thought to exercise hand muscles, improve brain function and reduce stress - although this is unsupported by scientific evidence.

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