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The BBC's Adam Brookes
"Soccer crowds are becoming harder and harder to control"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 19 July, 2000, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
China tackles football hooligans
Xian bell tower
Xian has been banned from hosting matches
Beijing has demanded action to stamp out increasing football hooliganism following a riot in the city of Xian in which thousands of fans fought street battles with police.

China's football authorities have already stripped Xian of the right to stage further matches because of the weekend's violence.


Police used teargas and water cannon on Saturday after thousands of fans went on the rampage for five hours in the historic northern city.

The riot followed a match between the local Shaanxi Guoli team and Chengdu Wuniu team from Sichuan province in the west.

The match ended in a 1-1 draw. A victory for Xian would have meant promotion to the A league.

Chinese police
Police were called in to disperse rioters
Shaanxi Guoli fans, furious that the referee had refused their side an injury time penalty, gathered outside the stadium after the game to try and attack him.

They then turned their anger on Chengdu supporters before rampaging through the city.

Rioters overturned cars, smashed windows and stoned vehicles with licence plates from Sichuan.

Eight people were arrested, but were later released, according to reports.

Fine

The Chinese Football Association said on Wednesday it had banned Xian from hosting further matches.

Football generic
Stadium control is a growing problem in China
It fined Shaanxi club 100,000 yuan ($12,000) and ordered it to seek another city in which to hold its home matches.

China's cabinet, the State Council, also issued a directive calling for stricter crowd control, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.

"We must pay high attention to those small numbers of soccer fans causing trouble and approach this issue from the important matter of maintaining overall social stability," the directive said.

Corruption

Reports say football hooliganism and incidents of unrest at matches in China have been steadily growing, as have allegations about corrupt referees being bribed to throw matches.

According to press reports, there have been more than 40 crowd control incidents at Chinese soccer matches in recent years, with eight in Xian.

Last month, the Chinese Football Association banned three second division footballers for life after they attacked a referee and put him in hospital with serious injuries.

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See also:

29 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Macau soccer punch-up
20 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese crackdown on Euro 2000 gambling
10 Jul 99 | Asia-Pacific
China goes football mad
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