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Perspective is the first casualty of media scrums

I read about the brawl between Beijing Guoan’s S-League youth team and Singapore’s Young Lions a few days ago, but didn’t think it was worth posting on. Why? Because such brawls are commonplace in football at all levels. You can see them in the EPL, the Bundesliga, any South American league every weekend, in lower leagues, and even in amateur competitions in public parks. Indeed, as an amateur footballer, your correspondent admits to possible involvement in the odd on-field fracas from time to time.

I’m not sure why this particular incident has been picked up on. Sure, it was a huge brawl, but the many reports online don’t say anything about any injuries, so one has to question how serious it really was. The S-League is a modest football competition of limited significance outside of Singapore. It’s a fair bet that because a Chinese football team is involved, media scribes, eager to ride the Chinese football scandals train as often as they can, jumped aboard.

However, every story I found online omitted a key fact – that this is a Beijing Guoan youth team. Everybody knows footballers can be a pretty daft bunch at the best of times, so of course a youth team is more likely to indulge in less-than-perfect behaviour. Making it even more of non-story.

How can Reuters and Singaporean media not even mention its a Beijing Guoan youth team? The UK’s Daily Mirror also covers the story, but as a tabloid, we can’t expect much accuracy from them.

Perhaps in an effort to put Beijing in a bad light, Shanghaiist covers the story, and one eagle-eyed poster points out the youth team aspect.

In case you are wondering why a Beijing Guoan youth team is playing in the Singapore S-League, here’s why.

A leading international commentator on Chinese football frequently quoted by the world's top media. Offers piercing and resolutely honest insights into the bustling crossroads where football, society, economics and politics meet in contemporary China. Based in Shanghai since 2005, observer of the Chinese game since 2000.

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