Guangzhou forced to play in empty stadium


China's Guangzhou Evergrande will kick off their defence of the Champions League title in an empty stadium after being punished Wednesday by Asia's football governing body for breaching league rules.

The breaches included filming an Al Ahli (UAE) closed training session, conducting an unauthorised post-match ceremony and infringing on the commercial rights of Asian Football Confederation sponsors, the AFC said in a statement.

The governing body said further violations relate to safety and security failures during the second leg of the 2015 final, which the club hosted on November 21 against Al Ahli. 

"The AFC disciplinary committee has fined Guangzhou Evergrande a total of $160,000 and ordered the club to play its first match in the 2016 season behind closed doors," the football body said.

The game in question is Guangzhou Evergrande's group stage match on February 24 against the winner of East Zone play-off 1.

The Chinese Football Association was also fined $10,000.

Guangzhou are China's most successful club, having won the Chinese Super League the last five years in a row. They also claimed the Asian Champions League twice in the same period.