• Kyodo

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Japan coach Zico’s press conference ahead of the holder’s semifinal clash with Bahrain at the Asian Cup ended in a farce Monday with politically charged questions, constant disruptions and poor translations leaving the Brazilian shaking his head.

Questions related to Tuesday’s match took a back seat as local Asian Football Confederation press officer Mohamad Awada berated Chinese reporters for refusing to turn off their mobile phones and bringing “political color” to a stormy conference at Shangdong Stadium.

After Awada had threatened to throw a television cameraman out of the room for refusing to switch off his cell phone, one reporter demanded to know why only China and not Taiwan had been highlighted in yellow on a map of Asia introducing tournament venues in the Japan Football Association media guidebook.

“Who knows?” Zico shrugged, adding “maybe the people who designed the pamphlet colored China yellow to highlight the fact that China is host of this tournament,” before Awada cut the coach short, demanding that reporters keep questions related to soccer only.

Japan switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1972. But the officials at the press conference declined to comment on the media guidebook issue.

Zico had already voiced his complaint about Chinese fans bringing political issues into soccer, demanding they respect the Japanese national anthem after it was jeered in all four of Japan’s matches.

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