China’s forward Wei Shihao battles for the ball during the match between South Korea and China at the EAFF E-1 football championship in Tokyo on December 2017. Photo- AFP
Agence France-Presse

China footballer Wei Shihao has been suspended for a month and could be sacked by his club Guangzhou Evergrande for a “malicious” foul in the loss to Uzbekistan, reports said on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old winger was widely condemned by Chinese media and fans for his challenge on midfielder Otabek Shukurov in the first half of the home side’s 1-0 defeat on Monday.

Wei was shown a yellow card after he raked his studs down the right calf of Shukurov who fell rolling his ankle.

Shukurov, who was unable to continue and later required hospital treatment, will be out for at least two months.

Wei, who has 10 caps for China and spent the early part of his career in Portugal, was also criticised for arguing with the referee following the incident.

Evergrande, coached by Italian legend Fabio Cannavaro — who is also in charge of the national team — took swift action.

Wei must carry out “profound self-reflection”, said an Evergrande statement widely carried in Chinese media which said he was immediately suspended.

“The club will review his self-reflection and self-criticism and then decide whether to expel him,” the seven-time Chinese Super League (CSL) champions said.

The state-run Global Times newspaper called Wei’s foul “malicious” and said it deserved a red card.

“Though he said his act was unintentional, he said he was just ‘too desperate to win’,” the Global Times said.

The newspaper said it was not the first time that Wei had been guilty of “evil behaviour”.

It caps a miserable beginning to Cannavaro’s life as coach of China and it is unclear whether the former Juventus and Real Madrid star will stay on in the post.

In his first game in charge, the hosts were lucky not to lose by more than one goal in a 1-0 China Cup loss to Thailand on Thursday.

And they failed to muster a shot on goal in the defeat to Uzbekistan.

“A humiliating defeat to Thailand at the China Cup has put pressure on the Chinese players,” the Global Times said before Evergrande announced the sanctions against Wei.

“But such action on the pitch is disrespectful to the opponent and unbearable to the fans.”

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