Gao's salute draws ire of fans

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Chinese striker Gao Lin has come under fire after a controversial goal celebration on Sunday, which looked like a Nazi salute.

A TV grab of a China Central Television (CCTV) shows Gao raised his right hand to the team's fans after scoring a second-half goal.

A TV grab of a China Central Television (CCTV) shows Gao raised his right hand to the team's fans after scoring a second-half goal.

The 27-year-old ran toward the stands and raised his right hand to the team's fans after scoring a second-half goal in the Chinese Super League match between Guangzhou Evergrande and Tianjin Teda at the Tianhe Stadium in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province on Sunday.

"Gao's gesture is very similar to a Nazi salute. He was not making a decent salute to fans," said a netizen nicknamed "Lonely Chuanling".

"He should be banned for life in soccer. In Europe, players are heavily punished if they make such a gesture."

The Nazi salute is banned in the international sports community and several athletes have been punished for using it over the past few years.

For example, Giorgos Katidis, 20, a soccer player from Greece, was banned for life from the Greek national team after celebrating a goal in March with what looked like a Nazi salute.

Also, Italian international Paolo Di Canio, 44, was fined twice for giving Nazi salutes in two Serie A matches during the 2005-06 season.

English Premier League club Sunderland appointed the Italian as its head coach in April, and the club's vice-chairman David Miliband quit his job the next day, apparently in relation to Di Canio's salutes.

However, some comments on micro blogs said Gao's celebration was misunderstood and the move was inspired by a large picture in the stands, which showed him celebrating a previous goal with his right arm raised.

"Gao was innocent. He was actually making a respectful salute to the fans," the comment said.

Gao made his 100th appearance on Sunday with Guangzhou Evergrande after joining the defending Chinese Super League champion in 2010.

Gao and the club did not respond directly to the criticism on Monday.

"The 100th appearance is a witness of my efforts in the past few years. Thanks Guangzhou! Thanks Evergrande! Thanks all fans for your kindness and recognition! I know that you always supported and encouraged me when I felt low. It is just a beginning for me," he wrote on his micro blog.

After the 3-0 win against Tianjin Teda on Sunday, Marcello Lippi, head coach of Evergrande, praised Gao for his improved contributions to the team.

"In past games, he did not show good form the full time. But today, he did an excellent job on the field," Lippi said.

Before the start of Sunday's match, Guangzhou Evergrande held a short ceremony to mark Gao's 100th appearance.

Brazilian striker Elkeson and Argentine midfielder Dario Conca also scored during the game. Elkeson has struck 13 goals in only seven matches after joining the Guangzhou side in January.

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