Manager apologises for soccer brawl

Updated: 2007-02-10 09:22

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]

The manager of the China Under-23 football team has apologised for a mass brawl which led to the abandonment of his side's match with Queens Park Rangers in London this week.

During the fight, Chinese defender Zheng Tao was knocked unconscious and taken to hospital for treatment for a fractured jaw.

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Team manager Li Xiaoguang, whose side are in England as guests of Premiership champions Chelsea, said he was particularly upset by Wednesday's incident as the players had been lectured repeatedly about their self-discipline.

Olympic football is restricted to Under-23 sides and players in the current China squad will hope to represent their country when it stages next year's Games in Beijing.

But some of those hopes may have been jeopardised by the extraordinary events at QPR's west London training ground.

"The incident that happened at the QPR training ground has hurt the image of the Chinese Olympic team," Li Xiaoguang said in a statement Friday.

"As the team manager, I would like, on behalf of the team, to make an official apology to all fans supporting our team, as well as to all media friends," he added.

"Whatever the reasons for the incident, as the team manager I will take the responsibility. Although the participants in this incident were the players, I will take all the blame.

"After the match with the Chelsea reserve team, we have noticed some of the young players cannot control themselves well. The coaching team even held a special meeting on it.

"On February 6, the head coach, Ratomir Dujkovic made a formal speech before the training session and asked the players to behave well on the pitch. In the afternoon of that day, Chinese coaching staff conducted individual talks with all players.

"Even before the match against QPR, the coaching staff again emphasised the discipline with all the starting XI players.

"However, the unexpected incident happened in any case. I will be conducting a serious inquiry into it.

"We have learnt a lesson from this incident and it will help us to strengthen our management and education of the young players and finally prevent it from happening again."

QPR chairman Gianni Paladini, whose club and England's Football Association have both launched their own inquiries into the incident, said: "I am sick about the whole thing.

"We will go to work 24 hours a day to find out what happened. We want the investigation to be done quickly. I hope we can find out something by Saturday.

"If anyone is found guilty, then there is no way we can be associated with anything like that. Violence does not solve a problem, and there is no place for it."

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