South Korea’s U18 squad was stripped of an international tournament title on Wednesday because of online backlash over photos of the team celebrating with the competition’s trophy in an “indecent” manner.
The celebrations came after South Korea’s 3-0 victory over China to win the Panda Cup. During those celebrations, a South Korean player had his picture taken while putting his foot on the trophy as if he was doing a Captain Morgan impersonation. However, that impression is not how the move was interpreted, instead being described as if it was a hunter celebrating a kill, according to a likely biased report from China’s state-run Global Times. The report also adds that one journalist saw the victorious players pretending to urinate into the cup. But the best part of the Global Times’ report is the line chastising the players for their actions that seemingly comes out of nowhere.
The South Koreans went undefeated in all three games at the tournament in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China’s Sichuan Province. The South Koreans acted like conquerors rather than champions as the young player ignored the universal ethos of sports which underlines fair play and respect.
According to multiple reports, that’s not an isolated interpretation of what happened. The BBC pointed out one user who called the Koreans’ actions “barbaric and vulgar,” while AFP reports that the Chengdu FA, the Panda Cup’s organizing committee, called the celebrations “a serious insult.”
Of course not everyone is handling the “barbaric” display with quite the same level of hysteria, as the Global Times’ report points out:
A Chinese soccer fan on Thursday went to the offices of the CFA in Beijing on Thursday and handed officials the photo of a South Korean player with his foot on the trophy, hoping the “humiliation” photo will inspire the governing body to work harder to improve the national team. “Please take a look at the picture and win this trophy back,” the fan wrote as the caption of the picture.
Yet even with one of the heartiest owns of an organization at the hands of a supporter, the CFA still demanded and received an apology. Some people have apparently not accepted the apology and accused the Korean player leading the remarks of mumbling—he also apparently dropped his notes partway through the speech.
The CFA also took back the trophy from the victors and hinted that South Korea would not get invited back to this four-team international youth tournament in the future, saying that teams and players “who violate sports ethics and spirit are not welcome to participate.”