BEIJING Referees were assaulted by boot, spittle and verbal abuse as the Chinese Super League (CSL) observed FIFA's international Fairplay Day in its own particular style last weekend.
The Chinese Football Association (CFA), desperate to clean up the league after years of scandal and violence, handed out stiff penalties to seven players and club officials for various offences committed in CSL matches around the country.
"The CFA had the fair play campaigns on CSL pitches as FIFA requested but there were violations on the very day, which must not happen," the CFA said on its website (www.fa.org.cn).
Shandong Luneng's Serbian striker Aleksandar Zivkovic was banned for eight matches and fined 40,000 yuan (3,547 pounds) for spitting at the referee during a derby match in Qingdao.
Hangzhou Greentown substitute Wang Hongyou will miss the next four matches and have to stump up 20,000 yuan for throwing his boot at the referee from the bench during a match against Shenzhen.
A tackle by Changchun's Liu Cheng on Shanghai's Tao Jin sparked brawls during and after the match with Shanghai's coach, translator, team doctor and a player punished for surrounding and verbally abusing the referee on the pitch.
The official in question, He Zhibiao, is having a bad season, having been chased across the pitch for 100 metres and then pushed to the ground by a Tianjin provincial player, who was banned for life in July.
Shanghai head coach Jia Xiuquan was banned from the sidelines for three matches and fined 20,000 yuan, while translator Xie Hui, doctor Zhang Peng and player Chen Tao all received fines and bans.
Changchun's Liu also received a three-match ban and 20,000 yuan fine for his "flagrant foul," the CFA said.
Soccer's world governing body FIFA designated Sept 5 to 9 as this year's Fairplay Days.
(Editing by Ossian Shine)