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Guangzhou Evergrande charged by AFC over fans' 'British dogs' banner

Guangzhou Evergrande have been formally charged by the Asian Football Confederation after fans of the club displayed a banner reading "Annihilate British Dogs" during their Asian Champions League win over Hong Kong champions Eastern on Tuesday evening.

The two-time Asian champions, coached by Luiz Felipe Scolari and home to former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Paulinho, have been charged with two offences under the AFC's Disciplinary and Ethics code.

The first is under Article 58, which relates to discrimination, and the second under Article 65, which covers spectator misconduct.

The game at Mongkok Stadium was played amid a tense atmosphere with Guangzhou fans holding up a banner in the dying minutes of the game that stated "Annihilate British Dogs, Eradicate Hong Kong Independence Poison."

Relations between Hong Kong and China have been fraught in recent years, with thousands taking to the streets in late 2014 and bringing large sections of Hong Kong's business district to a halt in protest over political interference in the city's affairs by Beijing.

Hong Kong is a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997, but the territory retains a separate economic, legal and political system from the communist-governed Chinese mainland until 2047 under the "one country, two systems" law.

The meetings between Guangzhou and Eastern had been earmarked for potential trouble following the Asian Champions League draw in December.

Eastern fans were prevented from attending the first meeting between the teams in February, when Guangzhou won 7-0, with fans who had purchased tickets with intentions to travel to China given compensation by the Hong Kong club.

Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch

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