We know the CFA is an incredibly frustrating body to deal with, but to the point of quitting Chinese soccer? Guangzhou Hengda’s star Muriqui, whose been one of the brightest stars on a team filled with good players and who currently sits 3rd on the scoring table with 9 goals, appears to be quitting Chinese football after receiving a 5 game suspension from the CFA on Tuesday.
If you watch the video, it appears Zhao Junzhe arguably committed two pretty egregious fouls in a mere matter of seconds before he was finally whistled for a third incident. A melee ensued that Zhao was in the middle of when Muriqui reached in from behind and grabbed Zhao’s hair to get him away from a teammate. It was a very brief moment, but it was bothersome enough to the Chinese Super League/CFA to fine him and suspend him for five matches. In an “Only in China” situation, the five games include reserve matches, so in reality it is only a three match suspension. It appears that also before the hearing was even completed, the details of the suspension had been released.In the same match, there was another incident where, after scoring, Muriqui’s teammate Gao Lin ran toward the assistant referee had words with him and celebrated in his face. Gao failed to receive any punishment for his actions, though the club intends to fine him for them. Rumors persist that Gao wasn’t suspended because he is one of China’s top choice strikers and the CFA wants him to play so that new national team manager Jose Antonio Camacho can watch him play.
Beyond the Camacho speculation, an argument could be put forth that foreigners tend to get punished much harsher by the league than domestic players do. Of course, there are plenty of incidents over the years, including Li Weifeng’s eight match suspension in 2008 that led to the disappearance of Wuhan’s Chinese Super League club, that would contradict this point. However, in recent memory, it does seem to be the case that foreigners tend to get punished much harsher than local players do.
After originally posting cryptic messages on Sina’s weibo, Muriqui has now released a longer statement in the vein of Chinese Communist “self-criticisms” where he apologized for what happened and explains how frustrated he is about it. It appears that he will be around until the end of the season, but hopes to leave Guangzhou and China during the close season.
Earlier in the year when Guoan manager Jamie Pacheco was suspended for multiple games for the middle finger, I wondered if it would lead to him leaving China at the end of the season. The CFA punishment machine seems to be harsh and definitely unforgiving towards foreigners. I’m not sure how much time the league spends discussing suspendable offenses before the start of the season, but it wouldn’t surprise me if no time at all goes into it. If its true that Muriqui is leaving, it means the league will be without one very talented player, though it is good news for all the other sides.