ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation)

China table tennis star Fang Bo punished for kicking towel rack during game

  • 2016 world team champion member is banned for two games and his club and coach fined
  • Fang’s punishment is the latest incident of unruly behaviour by top Chinese players
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 January, 2019, 6:17pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 January, 2019, 10:27pm

A member of China’s 2016 world championship winning team has taken to social media to apologise for his “negative impact” on the game after he was punished for violently kicking a towel rack during a Chinese Super League clash on New Year’s Eve.

Fang Bo, who is a member of the China national squad and was ranked eighth in men’s singles world rankings in May 2015, regretted his unruly behaviour after he took his anger out at a towel rack following a disputed call during his loss to Zhao Zhaoyan. The towel rack was next to the assistant umpire.

Fang has been banned for two matches and his club, Tianjin Quanjian, were fined 50,000 yuan. Fang’s club coach, Liu Zhiqiang, was also fined 10,000 yuan. Fang was a member of the Chinese team that won the 2016 world team championships in Shah Alam, Malaysia.

Watch the towel rack-kicking incident (at 31:10)

“I regret my behaviour after the game. Firstly, it has given my team a bad reputation. There were children among those attending the game and it had a negative impact. I feel sorry!” Fang said in his Weibo account.

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Coach Liu has also issued an apology, saying: “I have to take the blame as his coach. We need to have better communication in future and this area is still lacking. This requires further improvement.”

Chinese table tennis authorities are cracking down on misbehaving players in the wake of the 2017 scandal involving world No 1 Ma Long and two other Chinese stars – Fan Zendong and Xu Xin – who quit a tournament in protest after their coach’s removal from the team. The trio were hit with US$20,000 fines for “damaging the reputation of the ITTF” and for “letting down the global fans at the China Open”.

The trio failed to turn up for their last-16 games in Chengdu and the entire Australian Open in protest of their head coach, Liu Guoliang, stepping down from the team in a major restructuring of the team. The trio were each fined US$20,000 by the International Table Tennis Federation but were not suspended.

Liu’s removal from his coaching position – to eventually take up the role of chairman of the Chinese Table Tennis Association last year – came hard on the heels of China’s former national women’s coach, Kong Linghui, also known as the “ping pong prince” – a double Olympic gold medallist – being suspended from the team a month earlier after it was revealed that he had been sued over an alleged casino debt in Singapore.

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And it was also not the first time a top Chinese table tennis player has taken their frustrations out on a piece of furniture in an arena during a game.

Former world and 2012 London Games men’s singles champion Zhang Jike was fined a massive 45,000 (HK$402,000) for kicking and damaging sign boards following his 2014 World Cup victory against compatriot Ma Long.

Former Olympic gold table tennis player Kong Linghui being sued for HK$2.5m by Singaporean hotel

The ITTF withheld Zhang’s prize money of 45,000 for his “unacceptable” victory celebration after he damaged a few barriers.