The China Football Association (CFA) came under increasing
attack from local fans and media over the melee that broke out
between the nation's Olympic team and Queen's Park Rangers in
London last week.
QPR suspended their assistant manager Richard Hill on Tuesday
following his arrest in connection with the brawl that marred the
'friendly' match with the English Championship side's reserve
But Chinese fans say the CFA failed in its responsibilities both
during and after the fight, which left one Chinese player
hospitalized with a fractured jaw and others injured.
Reports from Chinese newspaper Titan Sports said that when
Chinese photographers were trying to record the on-pitch
hostilities, national team officials obstructed them, resulting in
a lack of evidence supporting claims that the Chinese players were
surrounded and attacked.
One soccer fan summed up the ensuing confusion.
"We had no idea what exactly happened after reading the
newspapers. Only after watching the videos from CCTV did I realize
that the Chinese players were provoked by ugly tackles throughout
the match. I think that was probably the main reason for the
fight," said Li Bo from Beijing.
Defender Zheng Tao was knocked unconscious and suffered a broken
jaw during the fracas, which resulted in the February 7 match being
Zheng and teammate Chen Tao, who left the pitch with a bloody
nose, will collect evidence and plan to appeal to FIFA to sue QPR
and the English FA, the Shanghai Evening Post reported
With players and coaching staff from both teams involved, the
CFA has also taken flak for its decision to offer an immediate and
"We should all take responsibility for this second brawl," said
the CFA, referencing an earlier tune up against Chelsea's reserves,
that also turned violent.
"Chinese football has once again been marred in front of the
"We apologize and we will work harder on disciplining and
educating our players."
Critics claim the apology creates the misleading impression that
China was fully responsible for the second fight, an impression
already moulded by scenes of striker Gao Lin's emphatic flying kick
on a QPR player.
Overseas media have used the apology in part to fuel analyses of
the fight that present the Chinese side's involvement in a negative
or, as some local media claim, unbalanced light.
The match was the penultimate tie in the Chinese Olympic team's
ten-game European swing, aimed at providing some top-level
competition ahead of next year's Beijing Olympic Games.
The final match was canceled.
As one of a set of punitive measures, the CFA sent Gao home the
This also caused complications, as it meant the striker was not
available to defend his actions when the British police launched
their investigation into the affair.
Gao is believed to have triggered the brawl by lashing out at a
player from the second division club, but he insisted he had been
"It is clear the CFA is trying to find a scapegoat for the
incident," said former CCTV sports commentator Huang Jianxiang on
Huang's former colleague Duan Xuan also questioned the CFA's
decision to play such an amateur squad, but said Gao should have
shown greater professionalism.
"Gao Lin should tolerate the provocations if it is an official
"However, what kind of match was this? Why were the opponents so
aggressive and brutal? Why does a national team have to play
against reserves? Why could not we fight back after being
Hill's suspension is believed to only mark the beginning of the
investigation as police and the FA are continuing to collect
A statement from QPR read: "Following the incident at the
training ground on February 7, and the subsequent police
investigation of the matter, Queens Park Rangers Football Club have
suspended assistant manager Richard Hill from his duties until
Hill was caught by a Titan photographer in the act of punching a
Chinese player. The picture was later purchased by British
The 43-year-old was released on bail but will face further
questioning and possible charges following the outcome of the
ongoing police investigation.
The CFA will decide what penalties to mete out in strict
accordance with FIFA rules after the investigation has wrapped up,
senior officials there said.
"We will make a decision about whether to punish the players
involved or not according to the FA's investigation," said Vice
President Xie Yalong.
Zheng will need three months for his jaw to recover but he is
expected to be match fit soon after.
Gao, who has been temporarily suspended from the Olympic team,
vowed to focus on training and said he hopes to return to the
"If I'm punished, I will accept the decision, hope to learn
something from my mistakes and work harder," he said.
"I will try to prove myself and get back to the national team as
soon as possible."
(China Daily February 15, 2007)