SHANGHAI: The Chinese FA launched an investigation into a match where a fourth official was reportedly attacked following a controversial draw that triggered claims of match-fixing.
Baoding Rongda were leading 2-1 when the referee awarded visitors Wuhan Zall a penalty during seven minutes of stoppage time at the end of Saturday’s fixture in China’s second division. The spot-kick was converted and the match ended 2-2.
Angry fans pelted the match officials with debris as they were escorted by security personnel from the pitch at the end, reported state-run newspaper the Beijing News.
Baoding chairman Meng Yongli burst into tears at a chaotic post-match press conference, alleging his side had been cheated out of the win.
The Beijing News reported that fourth official Yang Kaizi was beaten up in his dressing room, but the newspaper did not say who was responsible for the attack.
Meng gathered reporters on the pitch to announce he was pulling the team out of the league, before quitting as chairman hours later citing “personal reasons”.
Baoding, from near Beijing, subsequently apologised and said the club had no intention of leaving the competition.
The Chinese Football Association (CFA) announced an investigation into the controversy.
“CFA is taking this seriously and will treat everyone involved sternly based on facts and regulations,” it 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.”
The state People’s Daily newspaper on Tuesday hit out at Meng and Baoding, accusing them of damaging the reputation of Chinese football.
“In the history of football there hasn’t been any precedent where one could use beating and scolding, as well as quitting the league, to get what one wanted,” it said in a strongly worded comment piece.
“For football, when the club boss is crying and shouting to quit the league, when the perpetrators are attacking referees at the door, they have probably forgotten about what they first really wanted in their heart (which is to win the game).”
Chinese football has a history of controversy involving referees and officials and in 2009 launched a high-profile crackdown on corruption dogging the sport, leading to dozens of arrests and prison sentences.