Unrest in Beijing after Asia Cup final

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> China's heartbreaking loss to defending champions Japan in the Asian Cup final in Beijing, ended with fans chanting anti-Japanese insults.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:08 IST
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China's heartbreaking loss to defending champions Japan in the Asian Cup final in Beijing, China on Saturday ended with fans chanting anti-Japanese insults, burning Japanese flags and exchanging punches with police outside the Beijing Worker's Stadium. Japan won the match three-one, including a controversial second goal scored in the 65th minute. China's coach Arie Haan refused to accept the medal during the prize giving ceremony. Anti-Japanese sentiments had risen during the tournament and nationalistic passions were expected to overshadow the soccer action on the field. Chinese fans had booed the Japanese national anthem which played at the stadium and also harassed the Japanese players. But for the final, nearly 5,000 security men with rifles stood guard in the stadium to help things run smoothly - the fans behaved well but a controversial Japanese goal in the 65th minute made feelings run high. Koji Nakata's goal gave Japan a crucial two-one lead in the match, which the defending champions went on to win three-one. Many fans and the Chinese team had protested about the goal, which they thought had been scored due to a hand ball. Chinese fans used the opportunity to vent anti-Japanese sentiments over Japan's brutal World War II invasion of China. "We should never have been beaten by Japanese, because they invaded our country in the past. Although it did not happen in our generation, our elder generation were bullied and humiliated by them and we should definitely take revenge over it," said Gui Erniu, a Chinese fan. After the match, emotions ran high and the Chinese fans burnt a Japanese flag, chanted anti-Japanese insults and exchanged blows with the police. At least three men were seen being taken away by officers, but it wasn't clear if anyone was injured. China's Dutch coach Arie Haan refused to accept his medal during the prizegiving ceremony. The Dutchman believed bad refereeing meant his team were treated unfairly. "I am not disappointed about my team. It was a very big happening tournament for the whole of Asia. I feel sorry that we lost in the way we did, because I think the final should be, for us and for everyone else, another ending, but not in the way it was decided now," said Arie Haan, China's coach. Japan has only lost twice to China in their last 10 meetings and has won all four of their Asian Cup clashes. Despite the defeat, China can take solace in seeing its FIFA world ranking rise 13 places during the tournament to 51. For Chinese fans though, it was an opportunity lost and gained - as they took to the streets with more anti-Japanese insults. (AP)

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