By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Nov. 28: The Under-20 Chinese football team has suspended its latest campaign to play a string of friendlies with lower league German clubs earlier last week following protests by Tibetan activists during their opening game against TSV Schott Mainz on Nov. 18.
The tournament was part of the German-Chinese football treaty signed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu Yandong back in November 2016, where it was agreed that the football associations of the two country and its clubs will cooperate with each other to help improve China’s national team and help develop the Chinese Super League.
The suspension of the tournament came about following meetings between the CFA (Chinese Football Association) and its German counterpart (DFB) German Football Association. The German FA in a statement said, “In view of substantial indicators for further escalation, the DFB and the CFA conclude that the developments are not in tune with the initial envisioned aims of the friendly matches.
“Indeed, the project was exploited by a very few spectators in order to convey messages that were perceived as insults by the Chinese team, the officials, the CFA coaching staff as well as the Chinese audience,” the DFB further stated.
The Tibetan activists told Phayul that they did not shout any slogans or any derogatory remarks against the Chinese team but merely raised the Tibetan flag during the opening match.
“A Chinese spectator forcefully tried to snatch away the flag. The authorities and organizers intervened when a coaching staff from the Chinese team came and said what we were doing was wrong. I became very emotional and told them that this is not China or Tibet where my countrymen suffer brutally for raising the banned flag,” Lhanzey, the Tibetan women seen crying in video clips broadcasted by German media, said earlier. The Chinese team coached by former Manchester City defender Sun Jihai walked out of the stadium causing a 25-minute delay.
The DFB’s refusal to forbid the Tibetan flag attracted criticism from China's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Lu Kang who said, "We are firmly opposed to any country or any individual offering support to separatist, anti-China and terrorist activities or activities defending Tibet independence, in any form or under any pretext."
For now, the German FA has said that the U-20 Chinese team will resume its schedule in late January after the winter break when the German league halts its proceedings for a month-long festivities and heavy weather onslaught.