Buriram United footballers, along with Zhejiang FC players and staff, have been penalized by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for brawling during a match between the two clubs.
The brawl between members of Buriram United and Zhejiang FC after the AFC Champions League game on Nov. 29, 2023. Photo by AFP
Thai club Buriram’s Azerbaijani forward Ramil Sheydayev received an eight-match suspension, while midfielder Leon James and defender Chitipat Tanklang each received six-match suspensions.
For Chinese rivals Zhejiang, midfielder Yao Junsheng was given an eight-match suspension, while strikers Gao Di and Leonardo de Souza, and two other club staff members, received six-match suspensions each.
The brawl occurred after Zhejiang defeated Buriram 3-2 in group H match at the AFC Champions League tournament on Nov. 29.
It began with an altercation between James and Yao, which escalated when members of both teams joined in. It took stadium security some time to separate the hotheads.
James and Yao were identified as the instigators of the brawl.
After the match, James approached Yao on the field and began a verbal exchange. Yao slapped James in the face and several Zhejiang players then joined the attack on James.
Shaydayev intervened and pulled Yao away before engaging in another scuffle with a Zhejiang player. The Shaydayev altercation then became the nucleus of the brawl.
Buriram president Newin Chidchob told the media that Zhejiang players initiated the attack, and Buriram players were only trying to defend themselves. However, the Thai club also officially accepted AFC’s decision.
“The penalties are a valuable and painful learning experience for the team,” Chidchob said. “We must find a way to prevent such an incident from happening again.”
This defeat left Buriram with six points, tied with Zhejiang after five matches.
The two teams ahead of the brawlers, Ventforet Kofu and Melbourne City, now have eight points each. In the final matchday on Dec. 12, Zhejiang will face Melbourne in an away game, while Buriram will host Ventforet Kofu. Buriram must win against Kofu to keep their chance of advancing to the knockout stage.
This is the second international-level brawl involving Thai football in this year. Previously, Thailand had a brawl with Indonesia during the SEA Games 32 men’s football final on May 16. The incident resulted in seven members from both Indonesia and Thailand being banned from their duties for six matches. They all also received the minimum punitive fine of $1,000.
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