South Korean soccer star Son Heung-min’s celebration arouses controversy
Published: Nov 22, 2023 01:04 PM
Son Heung-min makes a gesture of shushing to the Chinese fans. Photo: Xinhua

Son Heung-min makes a gesture of shushing to the Chinese fans. Photo: Xinhua

South Korean soccer star Son Heung-min's goal celebration in their 3-0 away win over China on Tuesday aroused controversy on Chinese social media.

Chinese team was defeated by South Korea in their second group match of the second stage of 2026 World Cup Asian Zone qualifiers held in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province. 

Spurs star Son, who captains South Korean national team, bagged a first half brace before setting up teammate Jung Seung-hyun to add a third, putting South Korea on top of the group and in pole position to a secure spot at the 2026 World Cup.

However, Son's goal celebration caused uproars on Chinese social media with fans saying his gesture is highly disrespectful to the crowd. 

Playing in front of a sell-out crowd of more than 40,000 in Shenzhen, Son opened the scoring with a penalty on the 11th minute. In celebration, the man of the match rushed close to the stand and made a gesture of shushing to the Chinese fans. The gesture was met with jeers from the crowd.

Chinese strikers Wu Lei and Tan Long immediately went to argue with Son on the pitch over his provoking gesture.

"We need to respond to Son's disrespectful gesture by scoring and winning the match," said one user on China's Twitter-like platform Sina Weibo.

"It was a really difficult game today and obviously coming to China, it's a great experience and they have amazing fans," said Son after the match.

Having defeated Thailand 2-1 in the first match, China now stands third in Group C, level on points with the second-placed Thailand.

The top two teams from the nine groups progress to the third qualifying stage for the 2026 World Cup in North America.