A viral video of a boy delivering a well-aimed kick to another player's head in a youth soccer game has left coaches and parents up in arms.
'In my time on the pitch I've never seen anything like that from a boy under 12,' said Stephen Lam Tak-sing, operational director of Kitchee-escola, the team whose player was injured by a kick to the face by an opponent from the ESF Lions under-12 team in a Hong Kong Development League game at KGV school on Saturday.
He felt coaches should have intervened sooner with their players in a league where no yellow or red cards are given out for aggressive play.
The English Schools Foundation apologised for the incident, saying it would co-operate fully with an investigation set up by the league and that it upholds the principles of fair play. It also defended the coach, saying he is established and well-qualified.
The league plans to speak today to the two referees and an official observer who was at the game.
'I have no idea what happened,' said Ben Lam Chan-bun, a spokesman for the league, which is in its first year of operation. 'Last time they played Chelsea [Soccer School, Hong Kong] and there were no complaints.'
The score was 4-0 to Kitchee at half-time, and with the ESF team losing 16-0 in a game a month ago there is speculation the coach may have asked the boys to play more aggressively. The video shows a series of rough tackles before the kick.
'Even if he's 12 he has to understand what he did is dangerous,' Lam said, adding that the team and the parents of the boy who was kicked only wanted an apology.
'We don't want to cause any trouble with the ESF, we know they are good schools.'
The 12-year-old Kitchee player was not seriously injured.