Shanghai FC Withholding Players' Pay, Leads To Practice Protest
The players of Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua FC "staged an open protest in the full gaze of the Chinese media" on Monday, reportedly "due to wages going unpaid" from the ongoing equity share dispute, according to Cameron Wilson of WILDEASTFOOTBALL.net. Players showed up for their daily practice "in casual clothes and walked slowly around a running track," making for a "bizarre spectacle." The club's Chinese players "turned up late," with foreign players Nicolas Anelka, Joel Griffiths and Moises "turning up even later to join in the leisurely stroll." The Shanghai Online quoted Shenhua press officer Ma Yue saying that the players "were expressing their dissatisfaction at having not received wages." Ma added that the club's boardroom had witnessed the protest and "understood" why the action was taken. It was not specified how much money has not been paid. However, former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, who is currently on duty with the Ivory Coast national team, "previously went on record to int'l media to say he has been paid" (WILDEASTFOOTBALL.net, 10/15).
NEW PROBLEMS: In N.Y., Paul Mozur wrote in the WALL STREET JOURNAL's China Real Time Report blog that "a new fire has broken out." The player protest comes in the wake of the Chinese Football Association coming "close to declaring a victory of sorts after a spate of corruption and match-fixing arrests designed to clean up the sport in China." A "shareholder dispute" at Shenhua could see the country's highest-profile signings to date -- Drogba and Anelka -- "leaving China only part way into their contracts." In an e-mail, Shenhua Chair Zhu Jun said that "he might pull out his investments in Shenhua over an ownership dispute, raising questions over whether the club will have the financial resources" to hold onto Drogba and Anelka. Chinese Super League acting President Zhu Qilin said that he is "not clear on the details of the dispute, but he did not think Shenhua would stop paying wages." Zhu said, "I don't think they will withdraw from paying the wages, because they have a business agreement. Wherever you are, if you violate an agreement you will be punished" (WSJ, 10/16).