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May 21, 2019

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China coach: Ban Moroccan ref for life

Moroccan referee Tarik Benradi, who disqualified China’s Olympic champion Zheng Shuyin in a world taekwondo championships final, should be banned for life, Zheng’s coach has said.

Zheng, who took a dominant 20-10 lead in the closing stages of the women’s over-73-kilogram category final on Friday against Britain’s Bianca Walkden, was disqualified by Benradi, who alleged the Chinese athlete had committed 10 fouls during the bout. Zheng’s disqualification meant that Walkden secured her third successive world taekwondo title.

“We hope World Taekwondo will give us justice,” said Guan Jianmin, head coach of the Chinese national team.

Guan, who is also president of the Chinese Taekwondo Federation, said China has filed an appeal with World Taekwondo, the sport’s world governing body.

“We made two requests in the appeal. Firstly, the decision should be overturned. Secondly, the referee should be banned for life,” Guan said on Sunday.

“We don’t actually care much about winning or losing the match. We are just angry with his behavior. It is not simply a mistake because everyone makes mistakes. His decision is destructive to the fair and just competitive environment for taekwondo. This is the biggest problem.”

Booing drowned out any cheers from British fans at Manchester Arena as Walkden was announced the winner, and Zheng refused to acknowledge the Briton’s victory before collapsing on the podium and leaving in tears.

Walkden, 27, told the BBC that “it wasn’t nice” to be booed.

“But I never gave up and was going to die out there fighting for the win, which I think showed,” she said.

A source close to World Taekwondo said that Benradi has not been seen since the controversial match and had already left Manchester. “It is very difficult for him to officiate at world competitions.”

Benradi was named Male Referee of the Year by World Taekwondo in 2015 and one of the five best referees at the 2017 world championships. Xinhua tried to contact him for comment but received no reply.

Guan said he is also waiting for “an apology” from Benradi, which he says is more important than a gold medal.

“The competition is over but we still hope our voice can be heard across the world. The competition should be held in a fair, just, open and reasonable way,” the coach said.

China’s two-time Olympic champion Wu Jingyu, who won the women’s 49kg silver medal on Saturday, also blamed Benradi for ruining what should have been a “perfect” world championships.

“Every other match was held perfectly,” said Wu, competing in her first major event since having her first child in 2017. “I have encountered such unfavorable decisions in my career, but this time the referee has gone too far.”


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