Rongda reverses decision to quit
An uproar triggered by a team in China’s second-tier soccer league has taken a bizarre twist after the club reversed its decision to withdraw from the circuit to protest officiating.
Baoding Rongda FC, the bottom club in the 16-member Chinese League One, announced in a statement released on Monday that it will remain in the league and will accept any potential punishment from the Chinese Football Association for deciding to quit after a 2-2 draw with Wuhan Zall on Saturday.
Citing a referee’s call to award Zall a tying penalty during seven minutes of added time, Rongda chairman Meng Yongli fired the referee at the post-match media conference and hours later announced the club was withdrawing from the league.
“We can’t afford to play in an environment like this. If it continues, eventually no one will play,” said Meng, whose tearful outburst brought the media conference to an abrupt finish.
On Sunday, the club announced Meng was stepping down from the chair, citing personal reasons.
According to multiple reports, the chief referee of the match, Huang Xiang, was physically confronted by a group of outraged fans in a rest room after the match.
The CFA has launched an investigation and said it will severely punish anyone found involved in match-fixing.
The CFA also said it has been collecting evidence about the alleged assault on the referee and will impose disciplinary penalties on any parties involved.
“The incident escalated into a farce that was out of the club’s control,” Rongda said in a statement released on Monday.
“To avoid it getting worse, we have been cooperating with the CFA investigation and we are willing to take any consequences.”
Yuan Ye, a soccer commentator with sina.com, said that even if Rongda has withdrawn its decision, the incident is still likely to bring punishment to the club.
“According to CFA safety regulations, any incidents causing assault to match officials will incur penalties as serious as disqualification of the club’s home city to stage any games. Its fans will become victims if it happens,” said Yuan.
Meng Yongli, chairman of Baoding Rongda FC, weeps after Saturday’s Chinese League One match with Wuhan Zall. He resigned from the post on Sunday.