Guangzhou Evergrande fined, given suspended ban for 'British dogs' sign
Guangzhou Evergrande have been fined and handed a suspended two-game stadium fan ban after the Chinese Super League club was found guilty of breaching regulations in an AFC Champions League (ACL) win over Hong Kong's Eastern last month.
Away supporters displayed an "Annihilate British Dogs, Eradicate Hong Kong Independence Poison" banner during the game at Hong Kong's Mongkok Stadium on April 25.
The two-time Asian champions will be forced to pay US$22,500, the Asian Football Confederation announced on Thursday. They've been ordered to play their next two home games in continental competition behind closed doors, with the stadium ban suspended for two years.
The sanction comes after Guangzhou fans unveiled the banner during a 6-0 win, amid tensions that date back to 2014 street protests in the former British colony over Beijing's influence in the city's affairs.
The fine is the latest to be handed out to Guangzhou by the AFC.
The club was forced to pay US$160,000 last year after being found guilty of a series of violations, including secretly filming the preparations of Al Ahli of the United Arab Emirates, ahead of their meeting in the ACL final in 2015.
Guangzhou were also made to play their first game of last season's ACL behind closed doors.
The club, coached by Luiz Felipe Scolari, currently top their qualifying group in this year's ACL, with one round of matches remaining.
Guangzhou face Suwon Bluewings from South Korea on Tuesday, with a place in the knockout phase of the competition at stake.
Japan's Kawasaki Frontale, meanwhile, have also been fined and handed a suspended stadium ban by the confederation after fans displayed a controversial Japanese wartime flag during their win over Suwon Bluewings in the same competition.
Kawasaki have been fined US$15,000 and ordered to pay one home game behind closed doors, with the stadium ban suspended for one year.
Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch