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Thursday, February 08, 2007

QPR's Brawl/Abandoned Game Against China Makes The Times

The TimesFebruary 08, 2007
China discover whole new brawl game as QPR clash is abandonedTom Dart and Ron Lewis

Chelsea’s attempt to expand their brand to the Far East is developing into a China crisis. A member of the China Olympic team was taken to hospital with a suspected broken jaw after a brawl involving at least 30 people broke out during a so-called friendly against a Queens Park Rangers XI at the Coca-Cola Championship club’s Harlington training ground yesterday.

The China Olympic squad are in London as the guests of Chelsea, the Barclays Premiership champions. This could prove a serious setback as Chelsea attempt to forge closer relations with a potentially lucrative market.

“We got a call to Sipson Lane, we sent an ambulance and the crew treated a man in his early twenties and conveyed him to hospital,” a statement from the London Ambulance Service read. The player was taken to Hillingdon Hospital. On Tuesday, London triumphantly hosted four international friendlies; the next day it was the location for an international incident.

Every player on both teams, as well as substitutes, is understood to have been involved in the fight halfway through the second half of a lunchtime match in which both teams were playing aggressively. QPR were leading 2-1 at the time. It is alleged that Richard Hill, the QPR coach, became involved. The player taken to hospital is believed to have been knocked unconscious.

Dermot Gallagher, the Premiership official who was refereeing the match, was forced to abandon the game. Gallagher is expected to mention the fight in his report to the FA, which makes an investigation probable. No one has yet made a complaint to police, but it is thought that they are aware of what happened.

One source said: “It just kicked off and all 22 players were involved.” Another said: “There were punches and kung-fu kicks — it was absolute mayhem.”

One QPR fan who claimed to have witnessed the incident wrote on a website: “The bloke who was taken away in an ambulance looked in a bad way — all our players walked off and two China players were left out cold on the floor.”

The Olympic squad, comprising players under 23, is spending two weeks at Chelsea’s training ground in Cob-ham, Surrey, although the future of the exercise must be in doubt. “We have nothing to hide and everything to share,” José Mourinho, the Chelsea manager, said at a press conference to welcome the Chinese last week, but after the smiles and warm welcome, culture clashes appear to have developed.

China lost 1-0 to a Chelsea XI on Monday in another bad-tempered match as officials from club and country denied reports on a Chinese website that the players were unhappy with the pitches and changing facilities, although the visiting team’s coach, Ratomir Dujko-vic, did admit that the wet British weather was a shame.

Chelsea invited the squad to England as part of the club’s aim to exploit what it sees as a key future market. Peter Kenyon, the chief executive, visited Beijing last month and Chelsea have launched a Mandarin-language website and projects with the Chinese FA and Asian Football Confederation. The Times

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