China may resume soccer ties if Germany shows respect: experts

By Deng Xiaoci Source:Global Times Published: 2017/11/27 23:23:39

Tibetan separatists not protected by freedom of speech, says analyst


Sino-German soccer cooperation may continue as long as the German authorities handle properly, as a responsible host, an incident involving a Chinese team being interrupted by local Tibetan separatists, experts said Monday.

The Chinese Football Association (CFA) announced on Sunday that it has suspended a Sino-German soccer cooperation project, where China's Under-20 Team were originally scheduled to play in a German fourth-tier league through May 2018, after the Chinese team's debut was interrupted by local Tibetan separatists and the German side said they cannot ban such protests.

The CFA has also arranged for the departure of the Chinese team in Germany because "China's state interests cannot be harmed," according to a statement released on Sunday on the CFA's website.

The statement came after the Chinese team's debut in the German regional southwest league in Mainz on November 18. During the game, six people, including four alleged Tibetan refugees and two Germans, unfurled "Tibetan flags," causing the Chinese team to walk off the pitch, the Guardian reported on Sunday.

In its statement, the CFA called the incident "regrettable," as the German Football Association (DFB) failed to deliver a guarantee that similar events would not happen again.

"We believe this adjournment is essential in order to give us the time to discuss the situation calmly and openly and find a reasonable solution… The two federations will try to work out a way of restarting the project again quickly," Ronny Zimmermann, vice-president of the German association, was cited by the Guardian as saying.

Sports events should not be affected by non-sports factors and such incidents are not only against the fundamental principles of friendly Sino-German relationships but are also out of line with the FIFA (football's international governing body) regulations, the CFA said.

"We cannot ban the protests," Zimmermann said, claiming that "there is the right to freedom of expression here and certain rules apply."

However, Sun Jin, a Chinese professor in Germany for academic exchange activities, told the Global Times on Monday that "what the Tibetan separatists have done is aimed at splitting China and should not be protected by the excuse of freedom of speech as the German side claimed. The Chinese side is justified in adopting 'zero tolerance' against it."

Klaus Schlappne, a German soccer coach who trained China's national team in the 1990s, told the newspaper Deutsche Welle on Sunday that the DFB's response to the incident severely damaged Sino-German friendship, and achievements over the years have been also destroyed by such a rash move.

'Mutual respect'

"The Tibet question touches on China's core interests and the Chinese people's national sentiments," said China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang on November 20.

Such an incident might be unpredictable for the German host before it takes place, but it cannot be left unresolved, let alone encouraged in the name of "freedom of speech," Wang Dazhao, a Beijing-based soccer commentator, told the Global Times on Monday.

Germany, which has hosted the Olympic Games and World Cup, knows what is allowed at a sporting event, and it has taken measures to curb them, Wang said.

Soccer cooperation on many levels, including the under-20 team in Germany, between the two nations, will continue as long as the German government shows its proper attitude and handles the issue as a responsible host, Wang said.


Newspaper headline: ‘China may resume soccer relations with Germany’


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