Hefty punishments for brawl in China women's league

Wed Dec 17, 2014 4:21am EST
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BEIJING (Reuters) - Twenty three female basketball players in China have been suspended for their part in an ugly, bench-clearing brawl as organizers attempted to clamp down on ill-discipline in the scandal-hit league.

The incident came during the Sichuan Whales's home game against the Zhejiang Bulls on Sunday, with the hosts reacting angrily to a heavy foul from the visitors that brought about the melee and led to the referee cancelling the game.

The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) banned eight players for five matches, with the remainder handed one-game bans and the two teams also amassing combined fines worth 51,000 yuan ($3,872), Xinhua News Agency reported.

It was unclear how the Bulls or the Whales, who were leading 81-50 when the game was called off, would be able to field a team for their next league fixtures on Thursday.

The punishment came a day after the CBA kicked Heilongjiang Shenda out of the l2-team league for refusing to play overtime against the Bayi Rockets on Saturday because they were unhappy with the officiating.

They were also fined 10,000 yuan.

The two cases were the latest in a long list of incidents to hit women's basketball in China.

Earlier this year, Zhejiang coach Li Xin was suspended after allegations emerged she had been heavy handed in disciplining the team, while American Brittney Griner was cut last month after a man with a knife came after her and two team mates following practice.

(Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by John O'Brien)