Players: eat beef, drink milk

BEIJING - Chinese footballers need to eat beef and drink milk if they are to play, and fight, with Westerners on a level playing field, according to a member of the advisory body to China's parliament.

Last month's brawl between China's under-21 team and English club Queens Park Rangers proved that Chinese athletes did not have enough brawn, according to Zhang Xinshi, a biology researcher from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

"You can't just say you aren't used to eating beef and drinking milk and leave it at that," Zhang said during a discussion of Chinese agriculture at this week's meeting of the advisory body, CPPCC.

"Our football can't reach a higher level. We are only good at skilful sports. Running for two 45 minute halves on such a large pitch at speeds like 100m, how can [our] bodies do that?

"We all saw the recent fight in England and they [the players] were beaten to a pulp.

"Sounds tragic? But if you are as strong as a buffalo how can they beat you up?

"Therefore I don't think we should advocate the Chinese grain-eating tradition."

Chinese defender Zheng Tao was taken to hospital with a fractured jaw after the 30-man fight during an ill-tempered friendly at QPR's training ground, which provoked a media storm in China. - Reuters