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Chinese Football Association (CFA)

Abrupt halt to China U20 tour over Tibet flags costs German fourth-tier clubs €15,000 each

More than a dozen teams from Germany’s southwest regional are demanding the money promised to them for accepting to play the Chinese team

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 December, 2017, 2:45pm
UPDATED : Monday, 25 December, 2017, 5:48pm

German regional clubs are seeking 15,000 (HK$139,000) each after the Chinese under-20 team abandoned their tour of the country’s southwest because spectators had unfurled Tibetan flags during a match.

Led by Offenbach chief Christopher Fiori, more than a dozen clubs say they are owed the money that was promised to accommodate the Chinese team – who were preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics before the tour was abruptly halted.

“This issue will be discussed but I can say very clearly that we and other clubs will get the money and we have a valid contract,” Fiori was quoted as saying by the mainland media. “We adjusted our schedule [for the China team] and prepared for the match and we will not give up the money.”

Watch spectators protest at Mainz v China U20 match

It was not made clear if the money is to be owed by the German soccer federation or by the Chinese side. Fiori had said before the tour that 15,000 was a lot of money for lower-division German teams who survive on a tight budget.

Last month, the China U20 players walked off the pitch in the 23rd minute of a match – shown live on mainland TV – against FSV Schott Mainz after a group of spectators started to fly Tibetan flags. China considers Tibet an inseparable part of the country since ancient times.

The Chinese team returned to the field 25 minutes later after the spectators were persuaded to put down the flags. They went on to lose to Mainz 3-0.

China demanded that Germany prevent fans from displaying the flags in future matches while the Germans insisted it was their democratic right to freedom of expression. The impasse resulted in the U20 team abandoning their tour.

They were supposed to be part of the Regionalliga Südwest, which is among Germany’s fourth tier of professional football.

Before the tour, 16 of the 19 teams in the league had accepted the invitation to play against the Chinese team, citing the 15,000 as the main incentive.

FSV Frankfurt boss Michael Gorner said his team’s match against the Chinese team was cancelled 24 hours before it was supposed to be played, and his club is looking to paid the 15,000 he says it is owed.

Gorner ealier said that the club knew some supporters were going to bring political flags but that the Frankfurt officials were not going to intervene.