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Tianjin gets the boot for brawl

CHINESE soccer was back in the headlines for all the wrong reasons when Tianjin's Under-20 side was booted out of the 11th National Games following chaos that reigned at the end of a key match in Taian, Shandong Province, on Sunday.

Referee He Zhibiao sent off three Tianjin players in a Group C match which Beijing won 3-1. Enraged Tianjin players and officials surrounded He, who ran down the pitch for over 100 meters but was chased and shoved down by a Tianjin player.

The teams were playing for the final spot in the eight-team finals for the October 11-23 Games.

The teams were level 1-1 when He showed the first red card to Tianjin's Liang Jie, who was on the bench after being substituted, for shouting at the referee.

Beijing found the net again and this was followed by a second yellow card for Tianjin's key player Ma Leilei. Tianjin defender Liu Qing was then given the marching order for stamping on a Beijing player.

As tension mounted, Tianjin goalie Li Gen attempted to walk out of the match only to be pushed back by head coach Sun Jianjun.

Tianjin midfielder Geng Xin then scored an own goal in injury time as Beijing advanced from the group stages.

At the final whistle Tianjin keeper Li cornered the referee as the Tianjin bench emptied. In the ensuing chaos, one of the players, He Tengjiao, chased the referee and pushed him to the ground as helpless security officials watched.

On Monday, the Chinese Football Association disqualified the team and demanded self-critical letters from officials and players, while heavily criticizing the team for the chaos.

Tianjin coach Sun Jianjun apologized but said that he hoped that the CFA would show some leniency to the "young" players.

"We are sorry for what our players did .. but they are young and have a long way to go in their career," Sun said.

Conflicts between Beijing and Tianjin teams are a common sight.

During a Chinese Super League match on June 13, Tianjin's Tan Wangsong had a go at Beijing goalkeeper Yang Zhi, who was severely injured and had to be carried off the pitch. Tan was slapped with a five-match ban and fined 25,000 yuan.

On July 18, Tianjin fans loudly booed Beijing players Yang Hao and Yang Zhi when the Chinese national side played Pakistan during an international friendly in Tianjin, prompting criticism from head coach Gao Hongbo.


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