Top Serie A teams Internazionale and Lazio acted like tourists and drank wine worth more than £6,000 when they were in China last week for the Italian Super Cup, local media reported yesterday.
Champions Inter lost 2-1 to Italian Cup winners Lazio in the season curtain-raiser played in front of 70,000 fans at the Bird's Nest stadium on Saturday night. Although moving the match from Italy to China was a success, the behaviour of the clubs fell below the standards the organisers expected of their guests.
"The two teams from Italy were just like two luxury tourist groups," said Wang Bo, who looked after the teams on behalf of organisers United Vanson International. "Just on wine, they ran up a bill of 70,000 yuan (£6,200)," he added. "They were extremely inconsiderate, they didn't think about anybody else's needs at all."
When contacted yesterday, Vanson spokesman Ma Jian said Wang's comments were made in passing to the reporter and did not represent the company's official position. Wang's complaints compound the impression that the trip was a public relations disaster for Inter and their coach Jose Mourinho in particular.
The Beijing News, one of the Chinese capital's best-selling newspapers, had a particular grievance with Mourinho after he lambasted their reporter in the post-match press conference.
Asked why Lazio, playing on the same pitch and in the same searing heat that Mourinho had previously complained about, were able to win, the Portuguese rounded on her.
"After the first two questions, I know why Chinese football is so rubbish and why China has won gold medals in so many sports but not football, because the journalists are so unprofessional."
Mourinho later expanded on the shortcomings of the Chinese media after a question from state news agency Xinhua, saying he could only conclude that they did not "understand a thing".
The Chinese media responded by branding Mourinho arrogant and stories of other snubs and jibes circulated on the internet. On Monday, Inter posted a statement on their Chinese language website defending him against accusations that he would not meet China's national team coach.
"Jose Mourinho today firmly denied the reports that he refused to meet China's coach Gao Hongbo," it read. "After Inter's training in the Olympic Sports Centre on 5 August, Gao met and talked to Mourinho..."