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|Tuesday, July 18, 2000, updated at 10:55(GMT+8)|
Xi'an Fans Clash with Local PolicePolice in the northwestern Chinese city Xi'an battled rioting soccer fans, who tried to attack a referee on Saturday night, with tear gas and water cannons.
The riot was sparked by a "refereeing problem" in an earlier crucial match between home team Shaanxi Guoli and Chengdu Wuniu, both from the Chinese Division Two side.
Fans angered by referee Li Yuhong, believed to have neglected several fouls from the Chengdu team during regulation play. Li drove locals into a wild rage during injury time when he turned down an appeal for a penalty which could have handed the home team a late win.
The match drawing at 1-1, and a victory for Guoli, current Division Two leader, would have meant a early promotion to Division One for the team.
Thousands of fans gathered outside the stadium after the game, attempting to find Li who had been under police protection.
A few fans reportedly smashed police car windows as they waited outside and the trouble spread into the city before riot police moved in.
As police began to bust-up some of the smaller melees, fans responded by hurling bottles and stones. Eight fans were arrested during the riot.
The Chinese Football Association (CFA) held an urgent meeting on Sunday night with the State's Public Security Ministry to investigate and called on its discipline division to evaluate the referee's calls using a videotape of the game.
Punishment is expected to be meted out soon and Xi'an may be stripped of the right to host Guoli's league matches.
A spokesman from the CFA said it was wrong for Xi'an fans to riot regardless of the reasons.
He said the association will work harder to reduce fan riots and encourage referees to do a better job.
Xi'an has always been a headache for CFA. In recent years, the CFA had dealt with 42 fan riots. Among them, eight occurred in Xi'an including two this year. Chinese referees are often accused of corruption and taking bribes.
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