Trending: When under-12s football goes violent (and viral)


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The Independent Football

At four-down at half-time and faced with an uphill battle to get even, the blue side took the only approach they could see fit. Kick the blazes out of their opponents in black and white and hope to nick a few goals from a team clearly outclassing them.

Unfortunately, this wasn't Wimbledon v Newcastle in an Eighties Division One slugfest, but an under-12s game in Hong Kong. And, rather than Vinnie Jones grabbing someone by the crotch, the outrage in this particular bout sprang from a player from one of Hong Kong's English-language international schools booting a player from a "local" side square in the face. Possibly on purpose.

Students of the game will remember a similar incident on the West Ham training ground between John Hartson and Eyal Berkovic, which left Berkovic unable to eat for a fortnight.

A video of the Hong Kong game suggests that – after a 16-0 tonking by the local side – the English-language school published on a newsfeed that they'd actually won 3-2. This led to a rematch on 10 March. It was there that a series of niggly fouls built up to the face-kick. And then a minor mêlée between parents, players and coaches.

It's usually fighting parents who make the news when junior football spills into violence, but one version of the video has more than 250,000 views and has been spread around football websites with headlines such as "The dirtiest kids footballer ever?" Further digging, though, reveals an incident that has stirred up recriminations in the area.

They include legal threats about the video sent to a film director whose son was one of the local side's players (the original video has since been made private); a police complaint by the parents of the child kicked in the head; accusations of bullying by the Westerners on a Chinese social network; and complaints about subsidies handed to the international schools in the region. That's not to mention online racist taunts of "gweilo" ("ghost man") against the white children.

Is it evidence of a festering racial divide in the city-state? A graduate of one of the international schools suggested the atmosphere between the Chinese and Western kids in Hong Kong as usually being "an arms-length stand-off relationship, rather than one with any actual antagonism". This may be an example of actual antagonism, but more likely, it's just the kind of thing that happens on football pitches around the world on a weekly basis.