Friday 31 July 2009

Life Ban for Chinese Player Who Attacked Referee

The Chinese Football Association yesterday meted out harsh but perhaps deserved punishments to players and coaching personnel of the Tianjin youth National Games football team who harassed and abused a referee last Sunday.

Tianjin's Zhao Shitong (white no 12), who chased referee He Zhibiao and pushed him over, is banned for life from any activity related to football. [Note: if this player is young and inexperienced, then I have reservations whether this is the correct approach.]
Tianjin's goalkeeper Li Gen (yellow no 1) and midfielder Hao Tengjiao (white no 8), who both hounded and chased the referee, each received three-year bans.

Videoclips taken from CCTV of the incident, which have been widely distributed online, clearly show these players hounding, chasing and pushing the referee.

Two other Tianjin players (nos 16, 13) were banned for 30 months, two (nos 4, 11) for 24 months, one (no 14, who received a straight red for stamping on an opponent's chest) for 10 matches, and one player (no 9) for five matches. A coaching staff also received a one-year ban (although I am not sure if this was the head coach Sun Jianjun, who had previously said that he would "bear the primary responsibility for the incident"). Can anyone please confirm this?

Still no details about any apology to the referee!
I don't think an apology to the referee will occur (or if it does happen, it will not be reported by the media).

Related Links
Tianjin Players and Personnel Punishment Decisions (translated English version)
Tianjin Players and Personnel Punishment Decisions (Chinese version)

Reference Chinese player banned for life after ref attack (Reuters)
Jul 31, 2009

A player who led an attack on the referee after a qualifier for the National Games last weekend was banned for life by the Chinese Football Association (CFA) yesterday.

In the latest incident to tarnish the reputation of Chinese soccer, Tianjin's Zhao Shitong chased referee He Zhibiao for over 100 metres and pushed him down to ground before being restrained by police at the end of a match against Beijing on Sunday.

Zhao was banned for life from any activity related to football, the CFA said on its website. Goalkeeper Li Gen and midfielder Hao Tengjiao, who chased the referee off the pitch, were each given three-year bans.

Two other players were banned for 30 months, two for two years, one for 10 matches and one for five matches. An official from Tianjin Teda, the local Chinese Super League club, was also banned for a year.

The bans were announced just hours after the vice-president of China's leading club Beijing Guoan predicted the Chinese Super League would rival England's Premier League within 15 years. Zhang Lu said soaring interest in the domestic game could soon attract big name players and transform the current league set-up into a world beater.

"I believe the Chinese Super League can become one the most popular leagues in the world," said Zhang, a former goalkeeper and coach of the capital's top club.

His comments echoed those of English Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore, who said earlier this week that the Chinese Super League has huge potential.

Zhang said that after two difficult years where the league was plagued by poor refereeing, corruption and temperamental players, the last 12 months had brought a new optimism with attendances up at leading clubs.

"Fifty thousand recently watched Beijing Guoan in the derby against Tianjin Teda a record for China's domestic football," he said. "We have at least 10 or 15 years to wait before we catch up to the Premier League."

Thursday 30 July 2009

No Apology Given To China Referee Attacked By Players

Today (Thursday 30 July 2009), a full four days after China referee He Zhibiao (何志彪) was harangued by Tianjin football players, I Googled to see if there had been any apology given to the referee.

I used search terms: referee china chased 2009 which gave about 63,400 results.

I then used search terms: referee china chased 2009 apology which gave about 11,500 results. However, looking closely at the results, it is obvious that there was no apology given to the referee.

The closest to an apology was the Xinhua news story which said:
Sun Jianjun, head coach of Tianjin Football Team expressed his apologies at the press conference after the match.

But that is definitely NOT an apology to the referee. In my view, the referee deserves an apology.

In contrast, at least Didier Drogba officially and publicly apologised to Norway referee Tom Henning Ovrebo the day after his intimidation of the referee on 6 May 2009 during Chelsea's exit at the Champions League semi-final stage against Barcelona.

Referee in China Hounded, Chased, and Pushed by Tianjin Players: Consequences

According to Xinhua News Agency, the Chinese Football Association has acted swiftly and disqualified the Tianjin U20 football team from the upcoming National Games held in October.

However, didn’t the result of the match (i.e. Tianjin’s defeat by Beijing) automatically eliminate Tianjin from the upcoming National Games? Or perhaps that particular qualification match was a group game and the qualifying team had not yet been determined? As mentioned previously, the news reports regarding match details and specific outcomes are inconsistent.

Other punishments handed down by the Chinese Football Association are:
Formal criticism to Tianjin team manager and coach.
Tianjin is disqualified from voting/participating in the game sportsmanship award.
Tianjin is ordered to discipline their players, and culpable team members must write a self-criticism report.
Because Tianjin team’s violations are considered serious, the National Games football project requested the Chinese Football Association Disciplinary Committee to further punish culpable staff.

The comments from Tianjin’s coach Sun Jianjun appear to make little sense, and I have not seen or heard anything remotely like an apology to the referee. At the very least, the referee deserves an apology.

As usual, the media has ignored the view from the referee who was hounded, chased and pushed for simply performing his duty. I hope referee He Zhibiao (何志彪) gets the full support from his referees association, Chinese Football Association and all the clubs.

Related Links
Field of violence against the common maintenance of good order in court Chinese Football Association
Tianjin Soccer Team disqualified from National Games for "Beat referee incident" Xinhua news (English)
Tianjin Soccer Team Chasing and Beating Referee China Hush

Referee in China Hounded, Chased, and Pushed by Tianjin Players: History

I do not know whether this has anything to do the match on Sunday 26 July 2009, but there is some recent bad history between Bejing and Tianjin football teams.

The bad history is at the Chinese Super League level and, as I mentioned, I do not know if this is related to what happened between the Bejing and Tianjin U20 football teams last Sunday.

On 13 June 2009 during a Chinese Super League match, Tianjin's Tan Wangsong “attacked” Beijing goalkeeper Yang Zhi, who was severely injured and had to be carried off the pitch. Tan received a five-match ban and was fined 25,000 yuan (about US$3,600).

On 12 November 2008 during a Chinese Super League match between Beijing Guo'an and Tianjin Kangshifu, a mass brawl on the pitch started after the referee gave a red card (second yellow) to Beijing's defender Zhang Yonghai towards the end of the match.

Beijing-Tianjin 12 November 2008

Related Links
Controversial red card sparks scuffle in CSL

Referee in China Hounded, Chased, and Pushed by Tianjin Players: Match Details

I managed to find more details about the football match between teams from Beijing and Tianjin. The match date was Sunday 26 July 2009, and it was not a Chinese Super League match.

It was an Under-20 qualification match to determine the final team for the 11th National Games, which are scheduled for 11-23 October and involves eight U20 Chinese teams. The Beijing team beat the Tianjin team 3-1.

According to Xinhua News Agency, the qualification match took place in Tai'an city in east China's Shandong Province. Various news reports of the match appear inconsistent, but generally what happened was:
At 1-1, referee He Zhibiao (何志彪) gave a red card to a Tianjin player, who had been substituted and was sitting on the players’ bench, for foul and abusive language.
At 2-1, the referee gave a red card (second yellow) to a Tianjin player. Then a Tianjin defender stamped on the chest of an opponent, and was shown a straight red for serious foul play.
Apparently, the Tianjin goalkeeper became “distraught and disheartened” and tried to leave the pitch but the Tianjin coach Sun Jianjun physically pushed him back on. Emotions among Tianjin players and coaching personnel were sky high.
In injury time, a Tianjin player scored an own goal to make it 3-1. Tianjin knew they were eliminated from the National Games.

When the referee blew for full time, the Tianjin players started to target the referee.

Related Links
Tianjin Soccer Team disqualified from National Games for "Beat referee incident" Xinhua news (English)
全运京津战全武行:天津三红 险罢赛 追打裁判 Xinhua news (Chinese)
Tianjin gets the boot for brawl
Tianjin football team attack referee in Beijing match China News Wrap
Tianjin Soccer Team Chasing and Beating Referee China Hush

Referee in China Hounded, Chased, and Pushed by Tianjin Players

I first noticed this news story (Referee chased off pitch by players) on the BBC website and immediately wanted further information. The BBC videoclip (34 sec) does not include any incident(s) detailing the bizarre circumstances, and the text did not have any description aside from saying "angry football players for the Tianjin football team in China chase a referee around after losing a game".

After a little detective work, I managed to find slightly better videoclips on YouTube (35 sec) and CNN (45 secs)

Referee in China Gets Attacked

These videoclips show the referee giving a red card to a Tianjin substitute who is on the bench, and to a Tianjin player (no 14) for stamping on the chest of a Beijing player. We also see the Tianjin goalkeeper (no 1) hounding the referee at the final whistle, Tianjin player (no 8) chasing the referee, and Tianjin player (no 12) sprinting towards the referee and pushing him to the ground.

The behaviour of these players (plus the behaviour of their coaches and/or managers) is appalling and is to be condemned. Referees do not deserve this kind of abuse anytime, anywhere or from anybody.

More match details, history and consequences to follow in my next post.