Yesterday, the Chinese Football Association decided to issue a four game suspension and RMB20,000 fine to Beijing Guoan defender Zhou Ting for an incient during the end of the match against Shanghai Shenxin. His is at least the fourth such post-match suspension based on video review this season.
Zhou Ting’s suspension was arguably the most controversial of all so far, with previous incidents being far more blatent or taking place outside of the normal course of play. What all these incidents have in common, though, are that they happened during the last five minutes of a match. In Round 1, Wuhan’s Ke Zhao blatently kicked at Darko Matic’s legs multiple times, resulting in him getting a six match ban. In Round 3, two Guangzhou players were involved in incidents: Evergrande’s Zhao Xuri slapped Guoan’s Zhang Xixin after the whistle and R&F’s Davi pushed Shandong’s Cui Peng, both players ended up receiving a four match ban.
The incident involving Zhou Ting took place in the final minutes of Sunday’s match. Zhou and Xu Yunlong were covering Shenxin attacker Kieza when Xu fouled him, knocking him to the ground. The referee failed to call the foul and Zhou, thinking the player was attempting to smother the ball and waste time allowing Shenxin to come away with a point, went for the ball. Unfortunately, he did so when the ball was inches away from Keiza’s chest.
Was it with an intent to injure? Was it just an attempt to get the ball and get on the attack? That depends on your perception and who you support. What isn’t up for debate was that it was a horribly stupid play and deserving of a card. However, this season the league has changed course regarding violent play, harshly suspending any player who commits such an incident, no matter if he is punished during the match or not. Whether this is part of a pre-season directive or not is unknown, but by now it is more than obvious to all players that such actions will result in a multi-match suspension, with the minimum starting at four.
With only five rounds completed so far, it seems that unless players wise up, we may be dealing with many more similar suspensions as the season goes on. With six referees suspended in the same amount of time, it seems that the CSL has a serious issue that needs to be examined further.