10 Chinese players punished for referee attack

BEIJING: The China Football Association has punished 10 Tianjin city players for attacking the referee in a recent match at the China National Games, including banning one for life.

The incident occurred at the end of last Sunday's 3-1 defeat to Beijing during the group rounds of the football tournament at the nation's four-yearly games.

Of the 10, striker Zhao Shitong was handed a life ban for chasing referee He Zhibiao some 30 yards and knocking him to the ground, the association said.

Six more players were suspended for at least two years, while the others were given five or 10 game suspensions, it said.

Football players competing in the China National Games are usually young second-tier competitors looking to break-in to the nation's professional Super League.

Television footage showed the attack unravel as police, security guards and sporting officials tried in vain to protect the referee.

Chinese football has been plagued by poor refereeing, corruption and temperamental players, but association officials have pledged to build a league to rival the English Premiership, an endeavor they say will take 10 to 15 years.