Volatile Shanghai Shenhua winger Mao Jianqing got a slap on the wrist Monday after he returned to his club's training base following seven day's in police custody to face a disciplinary warning.
Mao, who has a history of on-pitch violence and off-pitch soap drama, was expelled from the national team's camp following his assault on a man in a restaurant last week and returned to an uncertain future at the Chinese Super League club.
But the club surprised Mao's critics by expressing its faith in the talented bad boy of Chinese soccer and his ability to get his life and career back on track.
"It's a good lesson for him," said club CEO Zhu Jun. "He told me how he was feeling after a week in custody. He has become more mature. I hope this experience will have a positive impact on his career.
"He has promised to the club and to me that he will not drink anymore, and that he will live in the training camp under our supervision."
Stressing that this constitutes a second chance rather than a clean slate, Zhu added a caveat: Mao will be kicked out of the team if he repeat-offends.
Mao's latest brouhaha involved several of his teammates and athlete friends and occurred in the early hours of the day after Shenhua lost this year's league title-deciding match. After arguing with a man at a nearby table, Mao's party were accused of flinging ashtrays and plates at the man, who sustained cuts and bruises to his body and head.
Mao later put in custody for one week and also agreed to pay the victim, surnamed Xu, 50,000 yuan ($7,300) in compensation to avoid further legal action.
"I'm so sorry for all the trouble I caused my family and the club," Mao told sohu.com, moments after leaving police custody. "It's even worse because it happened the day before my mother's surgery. I apologize to everyone including all the Shenhua fans."
Zhu said that Mao's financial straits, exacerbated by having to take care of his ill mother, who has been receiving treatment for cancer for years, had encouraged the club to gamble on the winger once again.
"He is a filial son. We don't have the heart to fine him any more," said Zhu.