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Soccer team may leave its host stadium
( 2002-03-26 11:53 ) (1 )

Soccer fans in Xi'an, capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, may pay for the riot that followed Sunday's league match with the possibility their football club will be forced to leave its host stadium in the city.

Witnesses said that two police officers were injured by out-of-control fans, and several of the rioters have been detained.

The Gangzhou-based newspaper, Soccer, reported on Monday that some cars, including four police wagons, were destroyed by fire in the riot.

Thousands of fans participated in the riot which took place after a 3-3 tie between the local soccer team, Shaanxi Guoli Club, and a visiting team from East China's Shandong Province. Fans deemed the result unfair, threw chairs and surged on to the field in anger.

The Chinese Football Association (CFA) said it is discussing how to punish the club and its host stadium.

Analysts say it is possible the CFA will ultimately cancel the qualification of the stadium to host the rest of the matches of the 2002 First Division League.

The club will write to the CFA to denounce the referee of the match, who they said awarded a wrong penalty kick to the visiting team when 48 seconds had already passed after full time and an additional 3-minute injury time.

A club official, who refused to give his name, said that his club is being unfairly treated by the CFA because it does not have strong financial support and it does not have famous soccer stars.

The CFA has decided that in 2004 it will set up a "super league" based on how well clubs have done that year. As a result of this news, many clubs are trying to win better results.

Although the club feels wronged, punishment seems inevitable, analysts said. The Sunday riot was the second largest soccer riot since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, and it has certainly raised governmental eyebrows.

The first large-scale fan riot happened in the early 1980's when the Chinese National Men's Soccer Team lost to Hong Kong's squad in Beijing and, in turn, lost the chance to win qualification to the World Cup Finals.



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