China strips S. Korea of football trophy for 'indecent' celebrations
Updated 18:04, 30-May-2019
South Korea's victorious under-18 team was stripped of the Panda Cup on Thursday after they infuriated hosts China with their celebrations. 
The Koreans had already apologized to "all the people in China" after a picture emerged of a player with his foot on the trophy. 
The Koreans were accused of disrespect after they defeated the home side 3-0 on Wednesday to win the annual youth international competition in the city of Chengdu. 
The photograph caused an uproar in Chinese media and on social media, with the organizing committee accusing the Koreans of "a serious insult." 
South Korea's squad and coaches subsequently made a public apology in which all the players and staff bowed deeply. 
With claims that the Korean players also pretended to urinate against the cup, the Chengdu Football Association made clear that apologies were not enough. 
"The Panda Cup organizing committee decided to take back the trophy won by the Korean team this time," it said in a statement on China's Twitter-like platform, Weibo. 
The association, which called the players' behavior "indecent," suggested that South Korea would not be invited back in the future. 
"Teams and players who violate sports ethics and spirit are not welcome to participate," it warned. 
South Korea, who have a simmering sports rivalry with China, also defeated New Zealand and Thailand to win the Panda Cup mini-tournament, which is in its sixth edition. 
South Korea won the Panda Cup in Chengdu, May 29, 2019. /VCG Photo

South Korea won the Panda Cup in Chengdu, May 29, 2019. /VCG Photo

But the tournament winners have been scrambling to limit the fallout since the image emerged of the player with his foot on the cup. 
A team official, reading a statement in English late on Wednesday in a hastily arranged display of public contrition, called it "a huge mistake." 
"We are really sorry for the mistake again and we humbly apologize to all the fans, all the players and also all the people in China," he said. 
"(We) apologize again," he added, bowing. 
The Chengdu FA's video of the apology has been viewed more than 10 million times on Weibo, where the story was trending, underlining the huge public interest. 
The Chinese FA lodged a complaint with the Asian Football Confederation, while Chinese media documented other perceived injustices at the hands of South Korean teams. 
They highlighted last year's PyeongChang Winter Olympics when China were disqualified in the short-track speed skating women's 3,000m relay, a race won by South Korea. 
A South Korean footballer was also in hot water at the London 2012 Olympics, when he held up a banner about a disputed island chain after his team beat Japan to win the men's bronze medal. 
Source(s): AFP