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Despite having issued a lengthy apology on behalf of their Brazilian winger Kenedy, Chelsea could still be facing major problems in China over the 21-year-old's offensive comments on social media.
The Premier League champions were prompted into apologising to the people of China after the former Fluminense youngster posted two messages on his Instagram account, one saying 'Fuck China' and the other mocking a sleeping security guard.
Although Kenedy swiftly deleted the posts and issued an apology, the Brazilian was promptly booed by Chinese fans inside the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing during a 3-0 victory over Arsenal.
An official club statement made yesterday read, "On July 22nd, Chelsea Football Club experienced the warmth and friendliness of Chinese fans at the National Stadium. However, we were surprised and disappointed that one day prior to the match, one of our young players, Kenedy, posted messages on his social media account that caused great offence and hurt the feelings of the people of China," the statement began.
"Unfortunately, even though he quickly deleted the messages and apologised, and the club also apologised via our Chinese social media channels, the damage had already been done. Chelsea Football Club once again solemnly and sincerely apologises.
The offending Instagram story posts have prompted Chelsea into a public apology and could have serious ramifications for the club in China. Images: Kenedy/Instagram
"Kenedy's actions were a mistake that he will learn greatly from. His behaviour does not represent the entire team and does not align with the club's high expectations and strict requirements of its young players. He has been strongly reprimanded and disciplined.
"Everyone at Chelsea Football Club has the utmost respect and admiration for China and loves our Chinese fans. It is because of this that the negative impact we have seen over the last two days has left us shocked and saddened. Once again, we sincerely apologise for the hurt caused to our Chinese fans as well as to the Chinese people."
And, despite the Blues' public apology, Goal are reporting that the Brazilian's actions could potentially lead to the Stamford Bridge club being banned in China entirely.
The Chinese government have reportedly ordered all media outlets in the country to "withdraw all related stories about Chelsea from their dual homepages and news apps".
A source from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has allegedly also confirmed that the club could be facing a blanket ban in the country, which would be significantly damaging for the Blues' brand, as China is such a lucrative market for Premier League clubs, especially during pre-season tours.
In addition to this, the Communist Party of China's leading newspaper, The People's Daily, has castigated Chelsea and their 'perfunctory' apology, with one article saying, "Best to keep your mouth shut, you troublemakers. If you do not learn to respect others, you will never earn the respect yourself.
"The hospitable Chinese people don't welcome such guest. Such Chelsea will be treated as a 'persona non grata' in the future."
Antonio Conte's men still have two fixtures remaining in their pre-season tour of the country, facing Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, later this week.
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