Soccer-Shanghai Shenhua's home stadium catches fire

SHANGHAI, March 28 (Reuters) - The home stadium of China's Shanghai Shenhua football club caught fire early on Tuesday but there were no casualties and the blaze was extinguished by mid-morning, the city government said. The cause of the blaze at the Hongkou Football Stadium was still being investigated, Shanghai city government said on its official microblog. State news agency Xinhua said the fire, which pictures online showed pouring from one side of the stadium, had not affected the stands or the pitch. The Chinese Super League team has spent heavily to sign high-profile players in recent months. Carlos Tevez signed a two-year deal in December for a reported 84 million euros ($91.22 million) while Senegalese striker Demba Ba, Nigerian forward Obafemi Martins and Colombian midfielder Fredy Guarin also play at the club. Shanghai Shenhua, who appointed Gus Poyet as manager last year, finished fourth last season, 16 points behind champions Guangzhou Evergrande. After being knocked out of Asia's top club competition in February the team felt obliged to apologise to fans. "Grateful there are no civilian casualties. As for the Shenhua emblem, it's best to burn it into ashes," one person said on China's popular Sina Weibo microblog. Others thought the fire could be a good omen for the national team, which beat South Korea last week to reignite a faltering World Cup qualifying campaign. "The fire is extinguished, the emblem is intact, this must mean the Chinese national team will rise from the ashes," said one. ($1 = 0.9208 euros) (Reporting by John Ruwitch and Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Peter Rutherford; )