An Irish gambling ring was behind this week’s fire at Shanghai Shenhua’s Hongkou Football Stadium, WEF can exclusively reveal.
A blaze ripped through one corner of the stadium on Tuesday morning, bringing the area to a standstill as firefighters rushed to the scene to douse the flames, which were quickly brought under control without any injuries or loss of life.
Suspicions that the cause of the fire may have been down to foul play were aroused when, in a strange co-incidence, a Beijing Guoan supporter was spotted at the scene apparently watching the home of his hated rivals burn. However, the fan was quickly absolved of any responsibility when it emerged he didn’t know what a football-specific stadium looked like.
Furthermore, an investigation into the fire has revealed something even more absurd. An Irish betting syndicate is said to have accidentally ignited the climbing wall inside Hongkou after a botched attempt to influence the outcome of a Chinese Super League game.
A spokesman for Shanghai Fire Department, Shao Qian, said, “After a thorough examination of the seat of the fire, we are certain that a carelessly discarded fire-lighting implement was to blame. We advise everyone to be more careful when trying to throw matches – the consequences can be very damaging.”
Security camera footage revealed a trio of white westerners coughing and staggering out of the climbing wall area in the south-west corner of the stadium. They were swiftly apprehended at the scene by Hongkou district police.
Police captain Zhu Tou, told media, “It would appear that these intoxicated foreigners, travelling on Irish passports with expired visas, had entered to stadium to try to ‘fix a match’ as they planned to later ignite it and cause a league game to be called off – an outcome they intended to bet on. However, in an act of senseless stupidity, it seems they threw the match instead and set fire to the climbing wall.”
Mr Zhu, speaking through a nervous-looking rookie-interpreter, continued, “I’m pleased that no-one was hurt and that the menace of match-fixing no longer afflicts Chinese football, adding, “However we must guard against complacency, and both the recent ban against smoking in public places and extra-long international breaks, should cut down on matches in general,” to a bemused press corps.
No word is out on if Shanghai Shenhua’s next game at Hongkou against Changchun on April 16 will go ahead as normal.
Some video footage of now extinguished fire at Shanghai Shenhua’s Hongkou Stadium pic.twitter.com/VbBJcApFta
— Wild East Football (@wildeastfootbal) March 28, 2017
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