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Footbrawl dominates Chinese media
Seven China players are sent home after a fight with QPR.
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2007 06:45 GMT

China defender Zheng Tao came off second best after the brawl with QPR [SINA]

Media in China slammed its Olympic football team for shaming the country in a mass brawl with English Championship side Queens Park Rangers (QPR), forcing the match to be abandoned on Thursday.
Dermot Gallacher, Premier League referee, was forced to stop the match and have police called to the west London training ground after wild fighting scenes broke out in a spiteful clash which the home side were winning 2-1.

As a result of the brawl, which was allegedly fuelled by provocations from QPR players, seven China players were sent home early, with Defender Zheng Tao ending up in hospital with a fractured jaw.

The melee dominated Chinese media headlines on Friday, with some outraged at the behaviour of the players, but others saying they were right to fight back against provocation from the English side.

"These players are like firewood. One spark and they explode," said the weekly Titan Sports in China.

"Equal brutality," read the headline in the People's Daily, while Beijing News had "Olympic team purging, Gao expelled".

The Beijing Times put the blame on the China Football Association (CFA), with "The father should be blamed for the son's fault".

More than 30 players and coaching staff from both clubs were involved in the brawl that kicked-off when Chinese striker Gao Lin lashed out at a QPR player with a flurry of blows.

QPR immediately ordered an investigation and the English Football Association has also announced a probe of the match, while the CFA is set to release a statement later Friday.

Damaged reputation

Gao, the player at the centre of the brawl apologised for his actions.

"Because of me an incident occurred during the match with Queen's Park Rangers which severely damaged the reputation of the Chinese Olympic team. I sincerely apologise to everybody concerned," Gao said in a statement.

However, Chinese media highlighted the fact that the QPR brawl is not an isolated event, with unsavory incidents erupting during three of nine matches played in Europe since the team went on tour on January 9.

Fighting broke out during their match against French club Marseille's development team on Tuesday last week and the match on Monday this week against Chelsea's second team was an ill-tempered affair.

Sports ministry paper China Sports Daily called for perspective in an editorial entitled "It's only a game".

"Now it's happened, we should forget about it. It was not a war, and need not be regarded as seriously as a diplomatic issue. Soccer will continue, friendlies, will continue. How to prevent this is something that really needs to be worked on."

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