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South Korea 'humbly accept criticism' over China trophy row

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Seoul (AFP)

South Korea's football body apologised for "disappointing behaviour" on Friday after their under-18s were stripped of the Panda Cup when one player was pictured with his foot on the trophy.

A photograph of the celebration -- along with a claim that Korean players pretended to urinate on the cup -- enraged tournament hosts China, who took back the trophy and threatened to ban South Korea from future editions.

South Korea beat China 3-0 in the final on Wednesday, but they were quickly in damage-limitation mode as the organising committee accusing them of a "serious insult" and creating "unforgivable images".

After a public apology by the team late on Wednesday, the Korean Football Association made a fresh overture to China on Friday.

"We apologise to the CFA (Chinese Football Association) and Chinese citizens for the disappointing behaviour of our young players," the KFA said in a statement.

"KFA has been considering respect as one of our foremost values... and we take this situation very seriously."

The players returned to South Korea early on Friday, and a meeting will be held in June to decide whether or not disciplinary measures should be taken, the KFA said.

"Meanwhile we will strengthen our educational programs on sportsmanship and respect for our young players," it added.

"We humbly accept many people's criticism and will try our best to make sure such an event will never happen again."

China's social media users slammed the incident and Chinese media went into overdrive, detailing other perceived injustices at the hands of Korean athletes.

They highlighted last year's Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, when China were disqualified in the short-track speed skating women's 3,000m relay, a race won by South Korea.

A South Korean footballer was also in hot water at the London 2012 Olympics, when he held up a banner about a disputed island chain after his team beat Japan to win the men's bronze medal.

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