'No evidence' Hulk threw punches

SHANGHAI • A Chinese football official has said that there is no evidence that Shanghai SIPG striker Hulk broke any rules after the Brazilian was accused of punching a rival team's coach.

Guizhou Zhicheng's then-head coach Li Bing had accused the muscular Brazilian of punching his assistant Yu Ming in a racially-motivated attack at half-time during SIPG's 3-0 victory on Saturday, allegations that the Shanghai club and Hulk both denied.

On Monday, Guizhou abruptly announced Spaniard Gregorio Manzano, former coach of Shanghai Shenhua, had replaced Li as coach.

The club gave no further information or indication that Li was let go because of the Hulk controversy.

"At half-time there indeed was a dispute between the two sides. But, according to our understanding of the situation, there is no evidence that Hulk violated any regulations," Li Lipeng, a Chinese Football Association official said in Beijing on Tuesday.

Li added that the run-in "was not as serious as some imagined".

The comments appeared to suggest that Hulk, who joined SIPG last June, was unlikely to be sanctioned over the controversy.

Hulk publicly rejected the allegations of violence and racism.

"Unfortunately they are trying to abuse my image," he wrote on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo on Sunday. "I have my conscience clear. God knows it. I just want to do what I love most - (which) is to play football! I'm very happy in China."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2017, with the headline ''No evidence' Hulk threw punches'. Print Edition | Subscribe