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Fans Turn Hostile After China's Soccer Loss

August 08, 2004|From Reuters

BEIJING — Hundreds of Chinese soccer fans faced off with riot police outside a Beijing stadium, throwing bottles and shouting obscenities after Japan won the Asian Cup championship.

The crowd burned Japanese flags and called for boycotts of Japanese goods after the defending champions' 3-1 win Saturday night.

The governments of both countries had pleaded with fans to stay calm. About 6,000 riot police, troops and security staff were deployed at the stadium.

Chinese still resent Japan's 1931 invasion of their country, which was occupied by the Imperial Army until 1945.

Tens of thousands of Chinese fans converged on Workers' Stadium before the game, many waving national flags or banging drums. They chanted anti-Japanese slogans and waved political banners.

Dozens of people in shabby gray uniforms like those worn by anti-Japanese forces in the 1930s and '40s brandished pieces of paper bearing messages like "300,000," a reference to the number of people who China says were killed by Japanese troops in the 1937 massacre at Nanking, now known as Nanjing.

None of the banners were displayed inside the stadium, where about 2,000 Japanese sat separated from Chinese fans by several rows of plainclothes security officials.

But Chinese fans booed so loudly that they drowned out the Japanese national anthem before the game. They jeered and shouted obscenities at the end of the game. Hundreds of fans then gathered outside the stadium, where they threw bottles and shouted abuse.

Hostile Chinese crowds had jeered Japanese players and hurled debris during previous games in the tournament.

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