CFA probes Ba's racism claims

The CFA has launched an investigation into allegations by Shanghai Greenland Shenhua striker Demba Ba that he was racially insulted during the match against Changchun Yatai.

Demba Ba

The Chinese Football Association has launched an investigation into allegations by Shanghai Greenland Shenhua striker Demba Ba that he was racially insulted during the team’s Chinese Super League match against Changchun Yatai on Saturday.

Changchun midfielder Zhang Li was said to have used insulting language — “you black” — towards Ba after they clashed late during the 1-1 draw in Changchun, northern Jilin Province. The club also posted a poster of Ba on its official Weibo account, which carried the slogan “Say No To Racism”.

The CFA issued a statement on its official Weibo account yesterday, saying that a hearing will held over the incident.

“The CFA will hold an investigation into irregularities during the game, and will take serious measures against violators. Chinese football insists on fair competition and sportsmanship, and calls for respect for referees, opponent players, fans and all participants. We are against all forms of racism,” the statement said, without mentioning any particular players.

Ba will head to Beijing today to attend the hearing. The Senegalese striker collided with Changchun player Tan Tiancheng in the 77th minute of the match, and then became extremely angry and agitated after “racist” comments from Zhang during their clash.

Local media have reported that Changchun had denied the allegations.

Ba has not commented publicly on the affair but has retweeted anti-racism posts on his personal Twitter account.

In a post-match press conference, Shenhua coach Wu Jingui had confirmed that “a Yatai player used insulting language toward” Ba.

Following the match, Chinese social media exploded with calls for an investigation. If misconduct is proven, any guilty parties could indeed face tough sanctions from domestic football authorities who will want to nip any controversy in the bid.

Chinese football is already under government scrutiny after splurging teams brought in a series of high-priced foreign players on transfer deals in recent years, prompting the government to impose tough spending curbs amid concerns over clubs’ solvency.

Ba had played for Shenhua in 2015-2016 before being sidelined by a broken leg.

Brief spells with Turkish sides Besiktas and Goztepe followed before Ba returned to Shenhua in June during the summer transfer window.

Meanwhile, Tianjin Quanjian’s Belgian international midfielder Axel Witsel is “on the cusp” of joining Borussia Dortmund on a four-year deal, the Bundesliga club announced yesterday.

The 29-year-old has been playing for the CSL side since January 2017, but his strong performances in Belgium’s run to the World Cup semifinals have paved the way for a return to Europe.

“Borussia Dortmund is on the cusp of signing the Belgium national player Axel Witsel,” the German giant said.

“The World Cup bronze medalist joined up with the BVB team today (yesterday)... with the group currently undertaking their summer training camp in Bad Ragaz (Switzerland).”

Dortmund said that Witsel had activated his release clause — reported to be around 20 million euros (US$23 million) — before the Chinese deadline day on Sunday, and that his move would be confirmed in the coming days.

The former Zenit St Petersburg star has scored nine goals in 96 international appearances, and played six times at the World Cup in Russia.

Witsel will become new Dortmund coach Lucien Favre’s second major signing of the close-season, after also bringing Dane Thomas Delaney to Signal Iduna Park from fellow Bundesliga side Werder Bremen for 20 million euros.

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