By Lobsang Tenchoe
DHARAMSALA, Nov 27: China’s U-20 football team to head home from Germany after activists from ‘Tibet-Initiative Germany’ displayed the Tibetan National flag at its first friendly match in the German Regional South-West league, the countries fourth tier.
“The Chinese FA said Sunday that its under-20 team will return home from Germany after indefinitely suspending its tour over protests by activists who unfurled Tibetan flags at a game, “reports the Mail Online.
According to the report, the arrangement courted controversy and become a diplomatic headache for Berlin and Beijing after a pro-Tibetan independence protest during a match in Mainz on November 18.
Following the protest at the China U-20’s first match, the German Football Association announced last week that the remaining games of the Chinese side will be postponed.
But the Chinese side will head home now. “It has been decided to pause the U20 project and arrangements have been made for the team to return home,” the Chinese Football Association announced on Sunday.
The first match of the Chinese U-20 football team in Germany against TSV Schott Mainz has to be delayed for 25 minutes as the Chinese side refused to continue and walked off the pitch after a group of six spectators from Tibet-Initiative Germany, four Tibetan refugees and two Germans, hung out the Tibetan national flags.
The China U-20 team was included in the German fourth tier league following an agreement with the China and the German Football Association to advance China’s chances at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
As per the agreement reached between the two football associations, the Chinese under-20 team would play 16 matches outside of the league with no points at stake with no influence on the outcome of the league.
Three teams from the league, namely Koblenz, Mannheim and Stuttgarter Kickers have refused to take part in the controversial arrangement after their fans protested, but the other 16 clubs in the league will each be paid €15,000 (US$17,634) for playing the Chinese team.