South Koreans apologize to 'all of China' over foot-on-trophy row
South Korea's victorious under-18 footballers apologized to "all the people in China" after a picture emerged of one of their players celebrating with his foot on the Panda Cup.
The Koreans were accused of disrespect after they defeated hosts China 3-0 on Wednesday to win the youth international competition in the city of Chengdu.
The photograph caused uproar in Chinese media and social media, with the organizing committee accusing the Koreans of "a serious insult."
Demanding an immediate apology, the Chengdu Football Association hinted that South Korea would not be invited back to the annual tournament.
South Korea's under-18 squad and coaches subsequently appeared late in the evening to make a public apology which was videoed and released by the Chengdu FA, and in which all the players and staff bowed deeply.
"First of all, we apologize for the situation, one of our players made a huge mistake," said a man identified by Chinese media as South Korea's head coach.
Reading from a statement in English, he added: "We are really sorry for the mistake again and we humbly apologize to all the fans, all the players and also all the people in China.
"We hope to keep a good relationship with the CFA (Chinese Football Association) and KFA (Korea Football Association).
"(We) apologize again," he added, bowing.
One of the players, thought to be the one pictured with his foot on the trophy, also read an apology and bowed.
South Korea defeated New Zealand and also beat Thailand to win the mini-tournament, which is in its sixth edition.