Rangers and All Black FC’s pre-season friendly caught the eye of everyone. The coaching staff of Rangers and supporters of All Black FC took turns to officiate the game, but then suddenly the match ended with 15 minutes yet to be played, leaving players and spectators disappointed. So what really happened? Zinc Yeung looked into the incident.
A highlight video on YouTube gave us some insight. It all looked like an interesting and meaningful pre-season match – very competitive, with All Black taking a 1-0 lead. There were a few hard tackles from both sides, but the level of sportsmanship was generally admirable with players usually apologising quickly helping opposing players to their feet.
However, things got out of hand near the end of the video, after Lau Cheuk-hin was tackled and responded furiously. While players from both sides tried to calm him down, Philip Lee, CEO of Rangers, decided to step in and called off the match prematurely.
When asked about the incident yesterday, Philip Lee accused the opponents of playing too aggressively, and his decision to abandon the game was in order to prevent any injuries. He said he understood that All Black FC really valued the chance to play with a Premier League club, but he also requested them to not play too seriously.
Rangers had also agreed to provide match officials for the contest, and Philip Lee stated that there were two experienced coaches at Rangers, who had been referees before, and were able to handle the job.
However, that is something that Medard Koya, convener of All Black FC, strongly disagreed with.
When arranging the game, All Black FC set the precondition that Rangers were to provide proper referees for the game, with the latter agreeing to this request. However, just five minutes before kick off, All Black were informed that no referees were present and were disappointed regarding the situation.
Koya, himself an experienced football coach, added that neutral referees can help control the match, as players are more likely to trust their decision. He stated that All Black and Rangers recently played against each other in a HKSAR 20th anniversary tournament, with professional referees, and the match proceeded smoothly. In recent weeks they also played friendlies against Pegasus, Tung Sing, and Happy Valley without any problems or incidents. Koya emphasised that All Black FC was formed to connect African refugees in Hong Kong with local people, but sadly sometimes this is not easy.