Police investigate after mass brawl ends China friendly

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The Independent Football

The Football Association and the police have started investigations after a friendly between Queen's Park Rangers and the Chinese Under-23 team was abandoned following a brawl on Wednesday.

The China player Zheng Tao was knocked unconscious and taken to Hillingdon hospital in west London with a suspected broken jaw after the fighting had caused the referee ,Dermot Gallagher, to stop the match with QPR winning 2-1 in the second half. The fight was reportedly sparked when Gao Lin hit a QPR player.

"I've never seen anything like it in my life," a witness told the website of the Ealing Gazette newspaper. "There were punches, kung fu kicks and all sorts. It was absolute mayhem."

Police were called to the incident and did not make any arrests, but an FA spokesman said: "We are investigating and we will be seeking information from Dermot Gallagher."

The unusual circumstances of the game - it was not an official match and took place at QPR's training ground in Harlington, west London - means it could be difficult for the FA to act. Although Gallagher took charge of the game, he was not appointed by the FA as the match was not a competitive one.

A statement yesterday on QPR's website read: "QPR can confirm that an incident occurred at our Harlington training ground yesterday, during the game against China's Under-23 squad. The club abhor violence of any sort and do not condone the actions taken by anyone involved. QPR will make no further statement while an internal investigation is conducted."

The China coach, Ratomir Dujkovic, was quoted on Sky Sports News as saying: "I did not see how everything began. I was watching the ball, then I saw they were fighting. It is very bad, and not acceptable, of course. Whether the local guys [QPR] or our guys began it is not important. It is unacceptable."

The QPR chairman, Gianni Paladini, said yesterday that he would "work 24 hours a day" to find the cause of the brawl. He said: "If anyone is found guilty, then there is no way we can be associated with anything like that. Violence does not solve a problem, and there is no place for it. I am sick about the whole thing.

"There is a code of conduct at this club, and life is about how you behave. We will go to work 24 hours a day to find out what happened. I hope we can find out something by Saturday."

Footage of the fight was aired yesterday in China, showing the Shanghai Shenhua striker Gao Lin throwing punches after being picked up by a QPR player. Both players fell to the ground, then others joined the fight.

"That's the style of English soccer," Dujkovic told the Beijing sports daily Titan. "But no matter what they do, it shouldn't be a reason for fighting. I am disappointed. It is not acceptable."

Gao, who could be sent home, said he had been provoked. "I failed to control myself in the match," he said in an apology published on Sina.com. "When facing the provocation I failed to obey the three rules of submitting to the referee, respecting opponents, and not striking back, which caused the incident. I sincerely apologise to the fans."

The China team are in England for two weeks, based at Chelsea's training complex at Cobham, Surrey, as they prepare for next year's Olympic Games in Beijing. But Chinese players said this week that they were unhappy with the practice facilities provided by Chelsea. They said the playing field was in poor condition, a claim that Chelsea officials disputed. In a practice game against Chelsea's reserve team this week, China's Dai Lin was awarded a red card and sent off in a match that also featured pushing and shoving.

"I never expected to see this kind of thing. We came here to train, not to fight. I am very disappointed, very," Dujkovic said.