HULK has denied punching an opposition coach – after being accused of ‘despising’ Chinese people.
The SIPG Shanghai star is said to have assaulted Guizhou Zhicheng’s assistant boss at half-time of his side’s 3-0 Chinese Super League win on Saturday.
The Brazil international – who is the eighth-best paid player in the world on £16.6million a year – insists he “likes and respects all Chinese people.”
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Hulk also says that the claims of a racially-motivated attack are an attempt to sabotage his image.
The incident is said to have take place as tensions boiled over at the break, after Guizhou had two goals ruled out.
Guizhou boss Li Bing claims Hulk – who scored one and set up another – punched his assistant Yu Ming in the face in front of SIPG manager Andre Villas-Boas.
Li said at his post-match press conference: “There were some arguments in the first half and their coaches took the initiative to insult us during the game, that was why we had the arguments with them.
“This lasted until the break, and later, in the corridor, Hulk cursed our assistant coach in English.
“We argued with him and he punched our assistant coach Yu Ming and Yu fell to the ground.
“Foreign players are here to improve our football level. Hulk has strong skills, but he cannot be here and despise Chinese people.”
Hulk, who signed from Zenit Saint Petersburg for £46million last June, posted on Chinese social media site Weibo to deny the claims.
He wrote: “Unfortunately they are trying to abuse my image
“The coach of the adversary team is accusing me of aggression.
“Where did he see it? I didn’t behave violently in any way!
“I have my conscience clear. God knows it. I just want to do what I love most – (which) is to play football!
“I’m very happy in China. I like and respect all of the Chinese people.”
SIPG say there was no security camera footage and accuse Li and Yu of making “inappropriate statements… provoking hostility between foreign and Chinese players”.
Guizhou later said that “the evidence is still unclear” and appealed to both sides to “look at the big picture” of developing Chinese football.