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Huang Bowen: Enemy of the People

This article was cross-posted in Chinese at Yahoo! Sports China.

When Huang Bowen left Beijing Guoan after the 2010 season to ply his trade in Korea with Jeonbuk Hyundai, he made a promise, if and when he returned to China, he would return to Beijing Guoan. It’s a promise that has become more and more common among Chinese players in recent years, it’s also one few players have bothered to keep.

Over the weekend, Huang signed a deal to return to China and join big money league leaders Guangzhou Evergrande, breaking his promise to Beijing fans. Some fans are saying that Huang should be forgiven, that as a professional footballer, this is just part of life and that a player must do what’s best for his career and his family.

I agree that a professional footballer has a short career span and must maximize it as much as possible, making all the money he can. What I don’t agree with is forgiving Huang. I was at Huang’s Guoan debut, I saw him score his first goal and he was long one of my favorite players.
When he left the club in 2010, I was fine with that, moving to Korea looked to be a good career move for him and I was appreciative of his service to the club. However, when he made his tearful promise to return, I believed it.

Fans understand the nature of the game and that players come and go, there’s nothing wrong with a player leaving. There is no need for a player to tell fans that he’ll return to the club if he comes back to China. It’s a “promise” that shouldn’t be made unless the player absolutely means it.

Huang is making up excuses for why he didn’t follow through, but no excuse is going to cause the fans in Beijing to forgive him. This is not the way to treat fans who supported a player for a number of years, from his first experiences in professional football.
It is also in stark contrast to another former Guoan player, Shao Jiayi, who promised he’d return to the capital club when he was ready to come back to China. Shao spent 10 seasons in Germany and when he was ready to come back to China this winter, there was only one club he considered, Beijing Guoan.

That kind of loyalty has guaranteed Shao is a fan favorite, beloved by those who watched him in the late 90s as well as by a new generation. It seemed fitting that on Saturday, the same day Huang signed for Evergrande, Shao scored the winning goal for Guoan.

Shao’s example of loyalty and love for a club is something that a guy like Huang can never understand. I look forward to properly greeting Huang when he comes to Worker’s Stadium on the last day of the season with the one word to describe him: TRAITOR.

Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years. Chemers' credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers. For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.



  1. Damian Jones

    12/07/2012 at 08:43

    Jeeez ! You Guoan fans really have a chip on your shoulder. That could be one of the reasons why most CSL fans don’t exactly welcome your team and fans to their grounds with open arms.

    • bcheng

      12/07/2012 at 08:59

      Guangzhou hasn’t had fans for long enough to understand…..

    • Yiddo Huayi

      12/07/2012 at 10:27


      The bigger the chip, the bigger the fan.

      The ones with the plastic chips are mere supporters!

  2. David

    12/07/2012 at 09:50

    Nice pic!

  3. Kimo

    12/07/2012 at 10:27

    Question, which move would you consider to be the biggest slap in the face:

    Huang Bowen signing with Evergrande after stating he would return to Guoan after leaving for Jeonbuk Hyundai or Joel Griffiths signing for Shenhua after his contract expired with the capital team?

    • bcheng

      12/07/2012 at 10:45

      Personally, nothing is worse than Huang, because of his promise. The Griff’s move was bad and completely inspired by money, but at the same time its understandable. There are still those fans who refer to him as “Judas Griffiths” and a “Cash Bitch”, but it’s understandable to all but the most hardcore ultras. In Huang’s case, even the average fan is angry about his move.

      Re the “chip on the shoulder” comment above, I don’t really think its appropriate. What kind of fan wouldn’t be angry about a player who promises something and doesn’t only not follow through, but also dumps on the club in the meantime…

      • Damian Jones

        12/07/2012 at 13:55

        “What kind of fan wouldn’t be angry about a player who promises something and doesn’t only not follow through, but also dumps on the club in the meantime…”

        CONCA !!

  4. shanghai ultra

    12/07/2012 at 11:04

    HB only has himself to blame for his insincerity. We know that players are motivated by money as much as everyone else, but that is no reason to excuse them from vitriolic abuse if they break promises or cross tribal divides. That is the nature of football, we all knew this from the beginning, HB now has to pay the price.

  5. smari

    14/07/2012 at 05:25

    funny remark is one news outlet mentioned “huang has ever promised to come back to beijing guoan”. well hope huang will enjoy his team in guangzhou.

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