By Tenzin Monlam
Chinese spectators trying to forcefully snatch away the Tibetan flag from a Tibetan activist on Nov. 18, 2017 in Mainz. File Photo
DHARAMSHALA, December 25: The Chinese Under-20 football team will no longer play regional matches in Germany following protests by Tibetan activists during their opening game against TSV Schott Mainz on Nov. 18. The team was to play a string of friendlies with lower league German clubs.
The Under-20 team had earlier planned to resume its schedule in late January after the winter break when the German league halts its proceedings for the festive season.
The German Football Association (DFB) last week said, “The German Football Association and the Chinese Football Federation have agreed, following talks, not to continue the series of friendly matches of the Chinese Under-20 team with teams of the south-west regional division.”
The Tibetan protesters were seen carrying and waving the Tibetan national flag, banned in Tibet by China and is seen as symbol of anti-China, without raising any slogans or passing any derogatory remarks towards the Chinese team.
However, a Chinese spectator forcefully tried to snatch away the flag. The authorities and organizers had to intervene when a coaching staff from the Chinese team came saying what the Tibetans were doing was wrong. Subsequently, the team coached by former Manchester City defender Sun Jihai walked out of the stadium causing a 25-minute delay.
“Despite the continuing day to day suffering endured by my country, the moment when the Chinese team walked out, we felt as though we snatched a bit of justice and victory for truth, Tibet and our countrymen,” Lhanzey Karma, one of the Tibetan activists who raised the Tibetan flag at a football game, told Phayul after the incident.
The DFB’s refusal to forbid the Tibetan national flag drew criticism from the Chinese Authorities. China's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Lu Kang said China firmly opposes 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.
The protest took place at the opening of the football camp which was a part of the German-Chinese football treaty signed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu Yandong back in November 2016.