China U20s return home from Germany after friendlies postponed

China have recalled their under-20 team from Germany after a series of matches against regional fourth division sides was postponed until at least 2018.

Late last week, both the German and Chinese football associations announced the postponement amid fear of protests.

At the weekend, the Chinese FA said the U20 team, which had been based in Germany, would return to China.

It cited "Tibetan interferences," which it said the German FA (DFB) had been unwilling to control, as the reason.

China's U20s had been set to play 16 of the 19 teams from the regional south-west division as part of their preparations for the 2020 Olympics.

But midway through the first half of the opening game against TSV Schott, aired on Chinese TV, the team left the pitch when a Tibetan flag was displayed by protesters referring to Tibet's push for independence from China.

They returned after some 25 minutes, but the 3-0 defeat will remain the only result from the planned series.

In a statement on Friday, the DFB said both associations had received "substantial tip-offs of further escalation."

Elsewhere, a group of Chinese ultras claimed a satirical Facebook account, the "China U20 Ultras Sudwest," was behind the protests.

They displayed banners in several stadiums in China which read: "Chinese Ultras Against 'China U20 Ultras Sudwest!!!'"

In a joint statement on Chinese social media network Weibo, the Chinese Ultra Groups said: "The Chinese Ultras are resolutely opposed to the fragmentation activities that this so-called 'China U20 Ultras Sudwest' have carried out by using the name of the 'ChinaUltras.'

"Tibet has been an inseparable part of China since ancient times!"