Racist chants against Shenzhen Ruby striker Babacar Gueye by Qingdao Joonon fans between the two club’s China League One fixture were witnessed by on Saturday.
In a sparsely populated stadium in Qingdao, the chant of “Monkey!Monkey!Monkey!”, which appeared to be directed at the black Senegalese player, rang out for several minutes during the game.
Throughout the match the teenage ball boys had been lazily throwing multiple balls onto the pitch which caused numerous delays. Tensions later came to a head when, with his team 1-0 down the time-wasting antics got to the Sengalese striker who threw one of the extra balls at the ball boy in what was a moderately provocactive gesture.
The home fans responded by yelling “fuck you!” in English. When when this didn’t get the desired reaction from Gueye the fans began chanting “Monkey! Monkey! Monkey!” in English while making noises. Jonoon veteran Guo Liang pleaded with fans to stop, but the chant went on for another few minutes.
Later in the match Gueye answered his tormentors by putting the ball in the net to even the score at 1-1, and ran over to the home fans with his finger to his lips, an action which did not go down well.
While Jonoon eventually prevailed 3-1 in a match spoiled by racism, the post match scenes had more than a hint of irony. After the match ended, Honduran international Osman Chavez brandished a banner thanking fans for their support in recognition of his World Cup call up. Chavez came over to salute the fans and the score board featured a message encouraging him to “add oil”.
The irony being Chavez is of the same skin colour as Babacar Gueye.
Racism in Chinese stadiums is generally rare but not unheard of. Hangzhou Greentown’s Brazilian striker Anselmo Ramon recently brought the anti-racism banana campaign to the Chinese Super League, hopefully it will trickle down to League One some day.