Sport

Pitched battle

Match ends violently

Faritz Abdul Hameed was probably not expecting the punch. He certainly wasn’t anticipating a flying kick to the chest. The Singapore-based footballer was then floored by a boot to the head and later hospitalised. His discomfort was the result of a mass brawl last week in the closing minutes of a match against Beijing Guo’an Talent FC.

Hameed, who plays for Singapore Young Lions, is the latest to experience the more unruly aspects of Chinese football. The Singapore side scored in injury time, and a Guo’an player responded with a gruesome tackle. The ensuing melee saw Beijing’s players, substitutes and coaching staff fighting on the pitch with the home side.

The incident is now available at various video sharing sites online. The referee abandoned the match, the first time this has happened in Singapore for 15 years.

Last Thursday team officials apologised, regretting the poor conduct of the youth team and promising to discipline them.

The incident has prompted (yet another) round of soul-searching in the media about the lamentable state of Chinese football. Hopes that the younger intake of footballers might be a cut-above the prior generation have been dashed. “They have not learned to play, but they’ve learned to fight,” comments the Chengdu Evening News of the younger crop of players.

WiC’s own considered opinion on the footage is that it highlights once again the Chinese preference for the karate kick in moments of over-excitement. European footballers seem to prefer the headbutt. Further proof that we do indeed live in a culturally diverse world.

Nor was the Singapore brawl an isolated incident. On September 8, a match in Shandong also descended into violence. The coach of Hangzhou Greentown’s under-17s said later that a dispute over a penalty ended in a scene resembling a “boxing match”.

Today Evening, a Chinese newspaper, says the Singapore fight is all the worse for the fact that it took place abroad, humiliating China and causing it to “lose face internationally”. Back in 2007, China’s Olympic soccer team also squared up to QPR’s reserve team (and in a ‘friendly’ match, too). Today Evening blames the Chinese Football Association for failing to punish offenders in the domestic leagues. That has just set a bad example for the younger players, it says.

WiC has written repeatedly on the shocking reputation of Chinese football. But with admirable resilience, the sport continues to test new lows. Dare we hope it can get no worse?


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