Abusive Chinese fans told to shut up

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/f/footballgeneric3.jpg' class='caption'> With the Beijing Olympics looming and China's image at stake, their hostile and sometimes abusive football fans have been told to shut up.

Updated: February 21, 2008 09:52 IST
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With the Beijing Olympics looming and China's image at stake, their hostile and sometimes abusive football fans have been told to shut up.

Organisers of the East Asian championships issued a public notice before the tournament banning unruly behaviour and the message was reinforced ahead of their game against Japan on Wednesday.

Some 3,000 security guards were reportedly on hand and eight green military-type trucks were seen near the main gate of the 60,000-seat Olympic Sports Centre in Chongqing, which was heavily bombed by Japan in World War II.

It followed Chinese spectators, still angry at their neighbour's World War aggression, persistently booing, jeering and throwing rubbish at three-time Asian champions Japan on Sunday when they played North Korea.

They did the same at the 2004 Asian Cup here, hurling cups and plastic bottles at Japanese supporters.

The 2004 event ended with a near riot after the final in Beijing, where Japan beat China, when a Japanese diplomat's car was attacked.

Ahead of Wednesday's match, which Japan won 1-0, local media carried articles saying true football fans respect their opponents, according to a Chinese journalist.

And at the stadium, the public address system called on the crowd to "refrain from using abusive language."

Chinese supporters largely adhered to the warnings and did not boo the Japanese national anthem, although some were seen lighting smoke flares and burning small Japanese flags.

Instead they turned their wrath on their own underachieving team, with tempers flaring towards the end of the game as the crowd booed and chanted "fire him", directed at China Football Association (CFA) chief Xie Yalong.

They also threw plastic bottles on the pitch as Koji Yamase's early strike proved decisive for China's second straight defeat in the four-nation event.

Chinese newspapers expressed dismay at the latest failure of the national side, also blaming the CFA.

"China loses to Japan: Why?" asked the mass-circulation Beijing Morning Post in its main headline

"Chinese football has deteriorated over the past 10 years. Why? The China Football Association can't shrug off the blame. Only it can answer this 'why?' Give us an explanation," the paper said.

Star Daily, a popular Beijing tabloid, said: "To be honest, there is nothing surprising about losing to Japan. It would have been a real surprise if we had beaten them instead."

While the supporters behaved better-than-expected, the Chinese team let rip on the pitch, picking up four yellow cards for some wild tackles in a bad-tempered game.

Japan coach Takeshi Okada accused North Korean referee Song O-Tae of being soft by not showing any red cards.

"I feel very much dissatisfied with not only the refereeing but other things," he said, without elaborating.

"I told my players to be calm but it was me who was getting excited."

Japan also picked up two yellow cards as their frustrations boiled over.

"Hit back when you get hit. That's the spirit. I felt it was what I should do at least," said Japan's defensive midfielder Keita Suzuki, who grappled with Li Weifeng when he was caught by the neck on the stroke of stoppage time.

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