Shanghai Shenhua’s coach was so enraged by the play-acting of his own midfielder that he stormed angrily onto the pitch and dragged the offending injury-faker to his feet.
The incident happened in the closing stages of Shenhua’s clash away to Nanchang on Saturday, when Shenhua youngster Liu Junnan went down after an innocuous bump with an opponent. He then lay on the ground and pretended to be injured for about a minute, before his boss, Shenhua head coach Dražen Besek, charged onto the field and roared at him to get up. When Liu stayed on the deck, Besek took matters into his own hands and forcibly lifted him to his feet.
Besek had previously went on the record earlier this season, to express his displeasure at what he thought was a very serious problem with play-acting in Chinese football. Anyone who watches even just one game will see ample evidence of this. Whilst this is a problem in football all over the world, in China the situation is cringeworthily bad, bordering on the point of being utterly unbearable to see. Besek’s hands-on approach to dealing with the problem is a very welcome and necessary development, and he has cemented his place is Chinese Super League folklore for quite some time to come.
The reactions of those around Besek are priceless. Liu himself looks shocked and confused, whilst Shenhua midfielder Cao Yunding appears to be asking Besek what the hell he is doing. Meanwhile, the referee’s reaction is priceless, smiling cheesily at Besek and giving him the thumbs up.
Afterwards, and in a video reel, Bezek told reporters that Liu was a professional footballer and that there are some things professional footballers should never do. He said Liu was a young player who still had a lot to learn.
It’s a lesson which has to be learned not just by Liu but the majority of Chinese Super League players as any regular attender of matches would readily agree – if the CFA can find a way to genuinely cut out the disgraceful play-acting, the quality of the league would double overnight.
Ground: Hongkou Football Stadium, Hongkou District, Shanghai
Capacity: 35,000 (26,000 for football)
Honours: Chinese top-tier league champions: 1995
Chinese top-tier league runners-up: 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008
Chinese FA Cup winners: 1998
Chinese FA Cup runners up: 1995, 1997, 2015