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Soccer Fans: Mr.Velappan, Please Apologise!

A technical glitch of the live TV broadcast in the opening ceremony of the Asian Cup in Beijing over the weekend has led to a row between top Asian football official Peter Velappan and local fans.

Thousands of fans in Beijing are protesting against Asian Football Confederation general secretary Velappan's remarks over their behavior in the opening ceremony on Saturday, asking Velappan to apologize.

Calling the Beijing people "not polite" and saying they booed and jeered top international football officials, Velappan has threatened to bar future events from the Chinese capital.

He was also highly critical of the sparse turnout in the opening match between hosts China and Bahrain.

Velappan added that the behavior has made him think he's not so sure Beijing can host a good Olympics.

Three representatives of the angry local fans handed in a letter of protest to Velappan, late last night, voicing their upset and disappointment.

The letter makes it clear that what they call Velappan's irresponsible remarks, especially those with regard to Beijing's hosting of the 2008 Olympics, has deeply hurt the feelings of Chinese fans.

The letter urges Velappan to apologize, saying if he doesn't, he will be deemed "an unwelcome person" by local fans.

Reports say Velappan accepted the letter from the fans personally without making any comments. However, he said he would issue a statement in response to the letter.

Earlier, Chinese organizers of the Asian Cup had played down the furious tirade by Velappan over the behavior of local fans, insisting they had not booed VIPS during the opening ceremony.

An Asian Cup local organizing committee spokeswoman said local fans had not been booing the opening ceremony guests, explaining that a technical glitch was behind the controversy.

Insiders say the glitch was created as there is a brief delay in the television broadcast so that anything fans watch on the giant screen in the stadium has already happened seconds earlier.

(CRI July 19, 2004)

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