Chelsea face a fight to save their reputation in China, despite sending Kenedy home in disgrace for insulting the country.
The champions are in the Far East this pre-season to boost their profile but now fear a media blackout after the Brazilian posted controversial social media messages.
The People’s Daily, the flagship publication of the Communist Party in China, accused the Blues of ‘humiliating’ the nation and threatened to treat the club as ‘persona non grata’ .
There were claims the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were “closely monitoring the situation” and that the Chinese press had been ordered to “withdraw all related stories about Chelsea from their homepages and news apps”.
The Blues have been trying to crack the Chinese market for some time as they are currently trailing other clubs in popularity.
Although they have 2.5million followers on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United all have bigger followings.
The FA have added to the champions’ woes by confirming they have written to the club and the Brazilian asking for an explanation.
The 21-year-old is set to be charged for the videos he posted on Instagram last week that sparked fury in the Chinese capital Beijing.
He was sent home on Monday but fans remain angry at the lack of respect shown to the country and continued to bombard social media. The controversy threatens to cost the club millions.
The Blues, beaten 3-2 in a Tuesday friendly here by Bayern Munich, saw Kenedy booed by local fans when they played Arsenal in Beijing last Saturday.
They are making their first trip to China since 2008 when they visited Guangzhou and Macau.
In their promotional brochure for this visit, Tour Of The Champions, Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said: In the official tour brochure, chairman Bruce Buck wrote: “Our visit is about more than just playing games and going home. It is also about leaving a legacy.”
“Our visit is about more than just playing games and going home, it is also about leaving a legacy.”
The People’s Daily had called on Chelsea take a zero-tolerance approach towards Kenedy.
The winger’s first offensive video posted was headed “Porra china” – or “F*****g China” in Portuguese – while the second showed an apparently slumbering security guard leaning against a wall with the word “Acorda china Vacilao” – “Wake up China Lazy.”
Following a backlash, Kenedy posted a subsequent message which read: “Hello my friends, just wanna say sorry if someone was sad because I used the expression “porra” [which] was no racism, just a expression big hug.”
But The People’s Daily said: “Even though Kenedy and Chelsea Football club have both apologized the matter cannot be dropped.
“It is regrettable that he has said such nonsense. He has created an incident that has humiliated China, an incident that so many fans simply cannot tolerate.”
“Kenedy’s absurd comments are not only impolite, but also uneducated.”
It added that a “basic sense of courtesy” could have stopped “such ugly behavior being exposed for everyone to see.”
Kenedy was not sent home immediately as Chelsea wanted to take the time to consider the Chinese reaction and the negative implications for Kenedy himself in taking such an action.
The strength of feeling that still remains in China, however, left the Blues with no alternative.
The 21-year-old winger, however, is now set to be farmed out on loan for the coming season. He had so far failed to impress since his £6.3million move from Fluminese two years ago.
In that time he has appeared only 22 times for the club, two of which were under Conte.