Thursday, February 08, 2007

China's U-23 team brawls with QPR in friendly

The Team China (China PR's Olympic U-23 team) friendly match with English League Championship club Queen’s Park Rangers was abandoned after a brawl in the second half. The English club was leading 2-1 at the time. Zheng Tao was knocked unconscious during the fracas and rushed to hospital as was captain Chen Tao. According to an AFCMedia match report, "Queen’s Park got off the mark in the 10th minute but Gao Lin equalised just after the second half resumed. The English side restored their lead soon after and a rough tackle on Gao at this juncture saw tempers fraying."

"That's the style of English soccer," team coach Ratomir Dujkovic told the Beijing sports daily Titan. "But no matter what they do, it shouldn't be a reason for fighting. I am really disappointed. It is not acceptable." Chinese striker Gao Lin, who was involved in the initial incident that sparked the fight, is being sent back to China, Titan said. Footage of the fight aired Thursday by Hong Kong's Cable TV showed Gao throwing downward punches after being picked up by a Rangers player. Both players fell to the ground, then others joined the fight.

English-based newspaper the Ealing Gazette reported on its Web site that match referee Dermot Gallagher would file a report with the English Football Association. The newspaper quoted fans who said it was "absolute mayhem" in a game spiced with punches and kung-fu kicks.

Dujkovic.told his team they were "football players, not boxers" and said the English "ferocious playing style" was no excuse for responding with violence. “When we are facing such physical challenges, we should try to avoid and protect ourselves but not this way. The whole team is the victim of such violent behavior. I never expected to see this kind of thing. We came here to train, not to fight. I am very disappointed, very."

Assistant coach Jia Xiuquan told Sina.com that, in the future, the coaches will "put more effort in to strengthening the management of the players and will definitely avoid similar things happening again. Again, I apologise to the domestic fans who love and support the team."

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