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Hulk did not punch Guizhou Zhicheng assistant Yu Ming - Shanghai SIPG

Hulk signed for Shanghai SIPG from Zenit St Petersburg in 2016.

Shanghai SIPG have denied accusations that striker Hulk punched an assistant coach from a rival team during his side's 3-0 win over Guizhou Zhicheng on Saturday evening.

Hulk, who scored his side's second in the win that moved them to within two points of league leaders Guangzhou Evergrande, was accused by Guizhou coach Li Bing of punching assistant Yu Ming because he "despises Chinese people," as the teams headed toward the dressing rooms at half-time.

SIPG, who paid a record €55 million for Hulk from Russian club Zenit St Petersburg last summer, have denied the allegations.

"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," said Li, who is due to be replaced by coach Gregorio Manzano.

"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 come here to help with the development of Chinese football, but no matter how well you play, you can't despise Chinese people, let alone beat our Chinese coaches."

SIPG head coach Andre Villas-Boas said he and Hulk were the first two people to enter his team's dressing room after the half-time whistle blew. The club's general manager, Sui Guoyang, denied the incident occurred after reviewing CCTV footage and consulting with police.

"The claims Hulk punched the assistant coach of Guizhou are not true," a statement on SIPG's official weibo account said.

"The statements of Li Bing and Yu Ming are inappropriate and they provoke hostility between the foreign players and Chinese people and it has affected the image of our club."

Guizhou coach Li later gave his version of events on his personal weibo account.

"In my opinion, the denial from Sui Guoyang is very inappropriate," Li wrote. "I think none of the coaches or players of SIPG on site would say that Hulk wronged by us. They would say they didn't see it, like AVB did, though they are aware of the fact.

"What I can't accept is not the defeat -- because SIPG is much stronger than us, but I can't accept that Hulk insulted us first and punched our coach first.

"I said something like he 'despises Chinese people' and I should reflect on that, but seeking the truth from the facts is something I've learned from my career and all the honours I've received.

"My daughter knows her father never tells a lie. I can guarantee the truth of the whole incident with my dignity."

Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch

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