French basketball player Guerschon Yabusele has been fined 10,000 yuan ($1,400) and given a warning for not raising his head during the Chinese national anthem before a game Friday, Chinese state media reported.
Yabusele, who plays for the Chinese Basketball Association’s (CBA) Nanjing Monkey Kings, was photographed bowing his head as his teammates appear to be looking up as the anthem was playing, in a screenshot posted by the Global Times, a Chinese state-run tabloid.
Global Times reported that Yabusele was criticized on Chinese social media for being rude and not showing respect. Players in the NBA and other American sports leagues will often bow their heads and close their eyes during the US national anthem.
Yabusele had a brief career in the NBA after being drafted by the Boston Celtics in 2016. He played one season for the CBA’s Shanghai Sharks in 2016 before moving stateside in 2017. The Celtics waived him earlier this year, after which he returned to China.
Global Times reported other Western players have faced similar fines, including former NBA journeyman MarShon Brooks.
The fines come as China has become increasingly nationalistic and patriotic under President Xi Jinping, placing many Western businesses and athletes in tough positions. Companies that have not toed the line on hot button issues like the status of Taiwan, Tibet or Hong Kong have suffered serious consequences.
The NBA fell victim to this conflict earlier this year, after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey expressed support for anti-government protests in Hong Kong in a tweet. Morey’s statement and the NBA’s subsequent decision to back hi led to numerous China-based businesses severing ties with the league amid a wider backlash.