Shanghai (AFP) – Shanghai Shenhua and Shanghai SIPG urged calm on the eve of their combustible football derby on Saturday, telling fans to be “rational” about the result — and clear up their rubbish.
The city rivals clash in the Chinese Super League (CSL) and feelings will be running high for one of the biggest football fixtures of the season.
Hundreds of police and security personnel will be on standby for the game at SIPG’s 56,000-capacity Shanghai Stadium.
The two teams only met for the first time in 2013, but have built up a healthy rivalry since.
Shenhua are seen by their fans as the traditional team of Shanghai and they accuse the wealthier SIPG of pinching their supporters and trying to buy their way to success.
Some Shenhua fans have switched sides — believing SIPG are more likely to win trophies — adding more spice to derby day.
Major disorder at Chinese games is extremely rare but the two clubs are taking no chances, and on Friday they simultaneously issued identical statements on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, calling on supporters to behave.
“We are urging fans and the community to watch the game in a civil manner and bring more positive energy to Shanghai, and be a good role model for children watching the game,” said the statement.
That means no “verbal attacks” on players, coaches, referees or opposing supporters, and no offensive banners, it said.
SIPG, who boast the expensive Brazilians Hulk and Oscar, will be favourites on the day and are third in the CSL after 15 games. Shenhua are sixth.