China fans rent hotel rooms to dodge virus ban on spectators

Shanghai (AFP) – Enterprising Chinese Super League football fans skirted a coronavirus ban on spectators by renting rooms at a hotel overlooking one of the closed stadiums.

Chanting supporters of Shanghai SIPG and Tianjin Teda packed out the Sports International Hotel in Kunshan and were clearly audible as SIPG won 3-1 thanks to two goals by Brazilian Ricardo Lopes.

The hotel is attached to Kunshan Stadium, near Suzhou, one of the neutral venues being used for this season’s coronavirus-hit CSL.

The campaign kicked off on Saturday more than five months late with all games taking place behind closed doors in stadiums in the Suzhou and Dalian areas.

Sam Wang of the Teda ultras group “Tiger Wings” was one of about 100 Teda and SIPG fans who cheered their teams, with some able to open their hotel windows for a better view.

The 25-year-old Wang said officials initially attempted to cover the windows, but later gave up, and supporters were able to watch all of Monday night’s game.

One SIPG fan was pictured banging a drum out of an open window.

“The players definitely heard us,” said Wang.

“They were going to salute us after the game but the referee stopped them.”

Wang said that the more expensive rooms at the hotel usually cost about 450 yuan ($65) but prices have now rocketed to about 800 yuan on game days.

Rooms are currently unavailable for Sunday when SIPG, who boast the Brazilians Hulk and Oscar, play Hebei China Fortune.

Subsequent match days also appear to be sold out or are not available, but rooms can be booked for non-match days.

However, local media reported that football authorities took a dim view and will attempt to prevent a repeat.

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