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Hong Kong courts

Soccer coaches not negligent after Hong Kong mother claims son should have worn ‘helmet and goggles’ while playing in goal

Lee Tung-yin, then eight, fractured his eye socket when he was kicked in the face by another child in 2013

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 September, 2017, 2:03pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 September, 2017, 2:16pm

A mother has lost a legal bid against a soccer club and two coaches after claiming they had been negligent in not requiring her son to wear a helmet and goggles while playing in goal.

Lee Tung-yin, then eight, fractured his right eye socket on November 3, 2013, when he was kicked in the face by another child while playing a soccer game in an industrial building in Kwai Chung. Lee’s mother, Man Yuet-ling, instigated a civil suit in 2015 against coaches Law Kwok-ho and Tse Chi-ming, as well as Hong Kong Rangers Football Club seeking HK$223,000 in compensation.

District Court judge Winnie Tsui Wan-wah on Friday ruled that none of parties were liable, adding it would be “against the common sense of any ordinary person who plays soccer” to suggest a goalkeeper should wear a helmet or goggles – a suggestion put forward by the boy’s mother during the trial.

Man claimed that the game two years ago was one of the practice sessions her son, now 12, regularly attended, which was taught by Law, a coach affiliated with the Hong Kong Rangers. But Tsui found that it was only a get-together sessions for parents and children to have fun on the day.

Although some of the children wore T-shirts printed with name “Rangers”, one parent present testified that it was only because they thought it would “cooler”.

Tse allegedly put on two hats, coaching and acting as an umpire on the day. But Tsui found the man, who was an assistant to PE teachers at a primary school at the time, only happened to be there with some of his students on the day just as other parents.

Lee had to undergo a surgery for the fracture, after which he suffered from a granulation tissue that required a further operation to remove it. But the accident did not result in any permanent impairment to his vision.

Goalkeepers wearing helmets is not totally unheard of, even at the highest level. Arsenal shot-stopper Petr Cech has worn protective headgear since suffering a fractured skull in a match in 2006.