China soccer is finally being talked about all over Europe and around the blogosphere, unfortunately (as usual), its not being talked about due to positive things. The Chinese Olympic team (the U-23's) were sent to England to train and learn from Chelsea and a few other London squads. After a game against Chelsea reserves which was broadcast live over the internet in which there were some pretty contentious incidents and some hard tackling, its been rumored that the Chinese players were warned before a match against QPR reserves. For the best summary of events, check out the news stories posted by ESWN in the big brawl part 1 and part 2.
QPR is a team in the English Championship and is struggling to stay up at that level, they are a physical team, playing English soccer, one of the more physical brands of soccer. Now anyone whose seen a Chinese Super League games knows that the Chinese players don't shy away from a bit of the rough stuff, the league and by extension the Chinese National team, is known as one of the more physical teams in Asia. There is very little footage of the game, but the reports I've read, the majority coming from Chinese reporters, tend to portray it as QPR having played very physical all game long with some harsh tackles and not the friendliest of language, but that's to be expected. After one particularly violent tackle, this became the scene:
I am a huge Chinese soccer fan, but I think the Chinese players are as deserving of the blame as the QPR players, especially considering it was Gao Lin that threw the first punch, no matter the factors that led to it. Further, the youtube video linked above shows one Chinese player chasing down a QPR player away from the main scene and 4 or 5 Chinese players circling a QPR player and offering flying karate kicks. On the lighter side, the fighting style of the Chinese players was pretty pathetic and very embarassing, no wonder non-Asians think all Asians know kung fu.
I've seen bloggers and posters on bbs' calling the QPR players "barbarians" and that goes too far. That is such a loaded word that needs to be avoided. I'm not a QPR fan and could care less about the situation from their standpoint, their players and trainers deserve to be punished and I'm sure the club or the English FA will punish them. My concern is with the Chinese players, especially Gao Lin, who couldn't control his temper and made these mistakes when he was representing his nation, not just himself or a club. I hope the Chinese FA comes down with a harsh punishment against him, at the very least not letting him play for any of the national squads for an extended period of time. For the rest of the players, there should be a monetary fine alongside some forced community service, which would have the added benefit of helping to promote the domestic league by getting these young stars in touch with the fans who pay to watch them. Whether it be helping out in the community or simply doing clinics for younger players (hey, in connection to my previous post, why don't they help out with the blind soccer teams at the local school for the blind in each of their cities?), they should be forced to do something.
What happened is inexcusable and extremely embarassing for all Chinese fans. The total lack of discipline shown on the field hopefully doesn't represent the future of Chinese soccer, because after all these years of inept play, we're deserving of a strong team. I find it wholly unsurprising that the "angry young people" that ESWN refers to came to the defense of these players, this lack of class and discipline is pandemic of the "one child" generation in China.