Beijing comes down hard on SIPG and R&F, suspending four players for extended periods and endangering the season for both teams
CFA names Oscar as instigator
Oscar will be made to pay for the sins of other SIPG and Guangzhou R&F players last Sunday.
On Thursday, the CFA handed the Brazilian an eight game suspension for, “offending other players, which sparked a large-scale brawl on the pitch.” SIPG defender Fu Huan got hit with a six game ban and two R&F players also got suspensions of five and seven matches.
The CFA is saying, in essence, that the players and coaches for SIPG and R&F were so inflamed by Oscar’s conduct — two kicked balls that struck R&F players, one of which was in the run of play, the second, OK, a bit of a temper tantrum — that they were irresistibly pulled into a maelstrom of hooliganish violence and humiliation. Someone must pay for this descent into madness.
There were no injuries. (The closest anyone came to getting hurt was Oscar himself, who was assaulted from behind when he wasn’t looking.) There was shoving, but not punching. The whole thing took less than ten minutes.
So, not so much violence. But the point about humiliation is well-taken. There is plenty to go around.
Referees, rule of law, CFA get punked
You can start where you always start when discussing the shortcomings of Chinese football: with the referees. Moments before the brawl, they blew an obvious offside call, leading to SIPG’s only goal, then issued two yellow cards to furiously protesting R&F players, then allowed play to get quickly out of hand after the restart. Among other mistakes, when a referee blows a call, professionalism dictates that he lets the players vent a bit instead of losing his cool himself. And he doesn’t let the match resume until he’s regained control of it.
The rule of law continues it’s decades-long losing streak. Oscar was suspended without giving his side of the story in Beijing. He was suspended without representation. He was suspended without possibility of appeal. He was suspended without any citation for specific bad conduct and without reference to previous standards for punishment. He was suspended for a brawl in which he did not participate. There was all kinds of pushing and glaring last Sunday, but not one bit of it was actually by Oscar, who hit the pitch after he got shoved and stayed down.
Oscar was suspended for the actions of others, over which he had no control. We do ourselves a disservice if we look the other way when we see this kind of procedural bullshit.
The CFA looks like it always looks: a clown car without GPS. The statements about the suspensions issued by the CFA lacked any transparency, rationale or accountability. The suspension calls into question the honesty and integrity of the CFA: the main beneficiary of all this is none other than Guangzhou Evergrande, with it’s many ties to the leadership of Chinese football. The championship trophy will be a tainted chalice if they’re quaffing from it in Guangdong this Fall.
What happens to Oscar and SIPG now?
Because of the CFA, this blip in one game is going to have profound effects on SIPG. For Oscar, he’s going to lose millions of yuan in salary. He’s going to be deprived of playing with his teammates in a critical stretch of the CSL season. It may influence Oscar when he decides where he wants to play next season and in subsequent seasons.
That, by the way, is the nightmare scenario for SIPG: Oscar decides he’d rather go someplace where the FA is less of a malevolent black box — you could hardly blame him — and the new CSL transfer rules prevent SIPG from replacing him with anyone at his level.
Short term, the effects of the suspension are going to be mitigated by a stroke of luck in the SIPG schedule: the next four CSL matches for SIPG are Henan, Jiangsu, Changchun and Yanbian — the bottom four teams in the league.
The Red Eagles might have been thinking about twelve points from those matches, even though the last three of them are on the road. Perhaps eight to ten is more realistic now. That will make catching Evergrande, already four points up on SIPG, very difficult.
In any case, AVB has those four matches to figure out what to do before the next four, which may be SIPG’s most critical stretch of the season: Evergrande and Quanjian at Shanghai Stadium and Shandong and Hebei on the road.
Ahmedov, Hulk should lace up their boots good and tight
Odil Ahmedov can expect to play every minute in mid-field until Oscar gets back, and with Hulk in the front-line, the third foreigner slot will come down to AVB choosing between Elkeson up top — he’s been in and out of the line-up — and 39-year-old Ricardo Carvalho filling in on the backline for Fu Huan. god knows Carvalho is rested: his next match for SIPG will be his second.
If and when AVB goes for Carvalho, the pressure on Hulk to provide offense will be intense. In those matches, and if AVB sticks with the 4-3-3, as he has all season, Hulk will be joined at forward by Wu Lei and either Wei Shihao or Lu Wenjun. Whether that’s enough remains to be seen.
Oscar will get to play in one match during his “break”: the mid-July FA Cup first leg against Quanjian, but he’ll go into that match having not strapped it on for real in a month.