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Are Shanghai Shenhua the Leeds United of China?

Football fans don’t have a lot in common. They dislike anyone that isn’t them and rarely forge any alliances. But the ‘We all hate Leeds scum’ chant has become that universal across England that the Whites don’t have to be even playing for two sets of rival fans to rejoice in their hatred of Leeds United.

When we do play and opposition fans serenade us with the chant, we ironically sing along with our own sarcastic rendition. Moments afterwards, a cry of ‘We’re Leeds United, we don’t give a fuck!’ bellows across either Elland Road or a packed out away end.

That’s it. Non one likes us and as the chant goes, we don’t give a f*ck. This siege mentality, of us versus the world, is something our fans thrive upon and what makes the club so special. 

With a fan base few can rival, and the tales of successes of yesteryear etched into the mind of any United regular, comparisons can certainly be drawn to China’s Shanghai Shenhua.

Having enjoyed domestic and some continental success over the years, Shenhua’s fall from grace has mirrored Leeds’; who sadly still remain trapped inside the English second division after narrowly missing out on promotion back to the Premier League last time out.

Despite pipping local rivals SIPG to the Chinese FA Cup in 2017 on away goals, The Flower of Shanghai have had next to nothing to shout about in recent years as the other Shanghai outfit continue to out class their once great neighbours.

Supported in magnificent numbers who produce a ruckus atmosphere inside the Hongkou Stadium, the intense cauldron of noise has recently been filled with protest chants against their owners.

‘绿地滚蛋’ is Shenhua’s fans way of telling their owners in no uncertain terms where to go, with the cry translating as ‘Greenland Fuck Off’.

Chants looking to oust terrible owners from ruining a great club, sound familiar Leeds fans?  À la Bates, Ridsdale, Cellino etc.

Leeds meets Shenhua – Image via Jack Douglas

In Chinese football, Shenhua often fall victim to being hated amongst other fans. Whether they be jealous of previous successes that their clubs haven’t had themselves, or envious of Shenhua’s impeccable support through thick and thin, supporters of other CSL sides have certainly made it no secret as to their lack of affection towards Shanghai’s now second-best side.

In particular the rival with Guoan, the Shanghai-Beijing rivalry is one of the fiercest in Asian football. Similar to that of Leeds United and that lot from over the Pennines, Manchester United, the teams aren’t exactly neighbours but certainly make their feelings known whenever opportunity arises.

Both clubs have been no stranger to controversy too. Shenhua were stripped of the 2003 Chinese title after it emerged that general manager Lou Shifang bribed referee Lu Jun RMB350,000 to be bias towards Shenhua as the played Shanghai International, now Beijing Renhe, in what was ultimately a title decider.

Shenhua won the game 4-1 but were stripped of the title a few years back. They also were implicated in fixing another game that season, this time against Shaanxi Guoli FC.

And as for Leeds, do I even need to go into our controversies…

So let’s recap then. Leeds and Shenhua. Brilliant fan base, check. A famous ground renowned for its intense atmosphere, you bet. Both despised by pretty much everyone, yup. Both pretty shite? Unfortunately.

'A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.' As a Leeds United fan, I'm still waiting for this step to be taken... In Shanghai for the summer.

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