England FA to probe China brawl

Updated: 2007-02-09 09:24

Review: Soccer brawl put Olympic team's England trip to shame

England Football Association (FA) officials are to investigate how a match between China's Olympic team and Queen's Park Rangers ended with a Chinese player hospitalised.

Police were called after the game at Rangers' training ground in west London Wednesday was abandoned by Premier League referee Dermot Gallacher in the second half following a mass brawl in which China's Zheng Tao was knocked unconscious.

Zheng Tao of China's Olympic soccer team covers his face in pain after getting hurt in a brawl which broke out during a friendly with Queens Park Rangers in West London February 7, 2007. [sina]

He was taken by ambulance to hospital with a suspected broken jaw, the BBC reported. Chinese reports said captain Chen Tao also needed treatment at hospital.

The unusual circumstances of the game - it was not an official match - mean it could be difficult for the FA to act.

Referee Gallagher is expected to file a report with England's Football Association.

"If this incident is reported by Mr. Gallagher then, of course, we will be investigating it fully," the FA said.

Footage of the fight aired Thursday in China, showing China striker Gao Lin throwing punches after being picked up by a Rangers player. Both players fell to the ground, then others joined the fight.

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Web portal Sina.com said Zheng had broken his jaw and lost a tooth in the clash.

"I've never seen anything like it in my life," said a witness. "There were punches, kung-fu kicks and all sorts. It was absolute mayhem."

Chinese officials apologised and told their players to cool it while a statement on QPR's website said: "QPR can confirm that an incident occurred at our Harlington training ground yesterday (Wednesday), during the game against China's Under-23 squad.

"The club abhor violence of any sort and do not condone the actions taken by anyone involved.

"QPR will make no further statement while an internal investigation is conducted."

Club chairman Gianni Paladini was quoted as saying: "We will conduct our own internal investigation into this matter."

"If any of our players are guilty of any wrongdoing then they will be dealt with accordingly."

QPR, in the English second division, was leading 2-1 at the time in a match that was part of China's ongoing tour of England, where they are based at Premiership champions Chelsea's training ground in Cobham, south of London.

A tough tackle on Gao Lin sparked the incident, with Gao lashing out.

"You (China team) are all football players, not boxers. We all know the opponents' ferocious playing style, that is English football but that is no excuse for violence," China coach Ratomir Dujkovic said.

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