It is the squeaky clean football league set up to promote the Christian values of love, peace and understanding.

Bad language leads to an automatic red card and ungentlemanly conduct, such as spitting or arguing, is frowned upon.

West Midlands Christian League bosses say players should behave, both on and off the pitch, in a manner “that is morally, decently and ethically sound of action and speech, and is honouring to the name of Jesus Christ.”

Set up in 1979 to offer Saturday fixtures, so ensuring churchgoing footballers did not have to miss Sunday services, the league champions “friendly competition whilst upholding Christian beliefs and ideals”.

But during a game between two church sides last weekend all hell broke loose. The match between Common Ground United and Zion Athletic had to be abandoned after a brutal brawl broke out on the pitch at Churchfields playing fields, West Bromwich.

By the time the dust had settled, five Common Ground players were up on charges of distinctly un-Christian violent conduct, one of them facing an additional count of serious violent conduct. Such was the severity of the trouble that all five could now be banned for a year.

Shocked league bosses say that they have never seen anything like it – and say that an influx of non-Christians into teams may be to blame.

Common Ground United, whose players have been singled out as last weekend’s culprits, is linked to the Living Stones of Christ Embassy church in Perry Barr, Birmingham, which has an international congregation.

The church states that it “provides a platform for young people of 13 different national backgrounds” and “is a true community team uniting all the cultures and bringing friendship, understanding and respect for each other’s background”.

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Opponents Zion Athletic FC is a team based at the George Salter Collegiate Academy in West Bromwich. One of the club’s players has also been charged with misconduct after the football fracas.

Common Ground founder Tony Sadla, a deacon at Living Stones of Christ Embassy church was at the game – and claims that his players, from Erdington, Handsworth, Winson Green, Smethwick and other areas, had been subjected to “provoking and badgering” before the fight.

But he added: “It’s devastating and shocking, and we don’t condone this sort of behaviour. Some of the kids come to church and some of them don’t, and those involved are no longer church-going Christians. But Common Ground United got the raw end of the deal with five red cards whereas Zion Athletic seemed to be the ones who escaped.

“When a penalty was awarded to Zion, their player started smiling and laughing, and made a remark. The guy who was involved in hitting him made a remark back and smiled and laughed. From there it just kicked off. We tried to stop it and pull them apart. Some of our players have had a bad course in life. By going to church, you don’t expect it to change overnight. Sometimes they go off the rails.”

Zion Athletic

Mr Sadla said the club and its players would accept whatever punishment was handed to them by the FA and league, and would seek to impose its own ban on those responsible.

Zion Athletic manager Jonathan Allen said: “Neither myself nor the other manager will have been proud of what took place. We are just thankful that no-one was seriously hurt. As a manager I was pleased by my players’ controlled response to the aggressive and violent behaviour of the opposition, by not fuelling a situation that could have been far worse.

“Violence has no place on a football pitch and we hope that the league will do all that they can to prevent a recurrence of this incident and ensure the very good discipline we have come to enjoy each Saturday continues.”


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Competition is fierce in China’s real estate market. So fierce, it sometimes gets out of control.

Staff from rival real estate agencies have been caught slugging out their differences in a bloody brawl on the streets of the capital Beijing.

Fists rained down as more than 20 real well-dressed men came to blows outside the office of one estate agency on a busy street. The fight was caught on camera by an onlooker.

Several combatants nursed bloody noses and torn shirts after the altercation, which petered out as police sirens could be heard in the distance.

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A hearing for an accused murder suspect in Springfield, Massachusetts ended up in an all out brawl on Monday.

Jose Santiago is accused of killing Jessica Rojas.

When he walked into the courtroom two members of Rojas’ family tried to jump him moments before the hearing started.

The two men, Edwin Rojas, who is the victim’s father, and Kenneth Soto, are charged with assault and battery on a public employee, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

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A massive New Year’s brawl at the New Dynasty restaurant in Chinatown, Montreal was caught on tape by a patron.

For several minutes patrons tossed plates and other projectiles at each other before fleeing.

The restaurant suffered considerable damage and two people inside the restaurant were injured.

One refused treatment and the other was brought to hospital with minor injuries.

Police say they got several calls about the brawl, but they aren’t likely to press any charges relating to the melee. Officers arrived at 3:55 a.m. on Jan. 1, after the battle ended.

Neither those involved in the brawl nor the restaurant itself appeared interested in pressing charges, so there will be no further police investigation in the incident.

A restaurant official who did not wish to be identified said that the establishment suffered about $20,000 in damages.

“I don’t know what they argued for,” he said. “All of sudden he just stand up on the chair and start flying all the dishes all the cups.”

The expenses will be considerable.

“We have to replace all the chairs and tables, we have to repaint the whole restaurant and you can see that some of the wall is broken and the we have to change the carpet.”

Contains violence and NSFW language
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Oh little town of Bethlehem, how unruly we see thee lie!

Scuffles have broken out between rival groups of Greek Orthodox and Armenian clerics in a turf war at Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity. Bemused tourists looked on as about 100 priests fought with brooms while cleaning the church in preparation for Orthodox Christmas, on 7 January.

Palestinian police armed with batons and shields broke up the clashes. Groups of priests have clashed before in the church, built on the spot where Christians believe Jesus was born. “It was a trivial problem that… occurs every year,” Bethlehem police Lt-Col Khaled al-Tamimi said.

“No one was arrested because all those involved were men of God,” he said. Nobody was seriously injured in the scuffles, according to the police. Previous clashes between the denominations which share the administration of the church have been sparked by perceived encroachments on one group’s territory by another.

The 1,700-year-old church, one of the holiest sites in Christianity, is in a bad state of repair, largely because the priests cannot agree on who should pay for its upkeep. Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built on the site where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified, has also seen similar incidents.

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Parents often cheer their children on from the sidelines at sporting events but Imanol Harinordoquy’s father took his enthusiasm a little too far when he ran onto the pitch and tried to punch a Bayonne player during the Basque derby.

Lucien Harinordoquy raced onto the pitch during Tuesday’s Top 14 clash, after his France international son had clashed with a pair of Bayonne players, and attempted to punch one of them – Jean-Jo Marmouyet – in the face.

Before he was able to make contact with Marmouyet, however, Harinordoquy snr was tackled by Bayonne fly-half Benjamin Boyet.

“I tackled him because he was attacking one of my team mates,” Boyet said.

“I put him to the ground and (Biarritz hooker) Benoit August told me to stop, because it was Imanol’s father.” Bayonne president Michel Cacouault was apoplectic after the incident and has threatened to file a complaint, branding the incident “unacceptable”.

Cacouault has said he will seek to ascertain what Bayonne can do “legally” over the incident, which occurred in the sixth minute of his side’s 21-19 defeat.

Christian Gajan, Bayonne’s director of rugby, was also outraged by Harinordoquy snr’s behaviour.

“I find his behaviour deplorable, that he came onto the pitch to defend his son by boxing with Marmouyet at the beginning of the match,” he said.

“You could have been forgiven for thinking it was a youth match between two local villages. It was a scandalous episode.” Harinordoquy jnr, who is known as one of the toughest players in the sport and is a veteran of three World Cups, has chosen not to comment.

The president of France’s National Rugby League, Pierre-Yves Revol, has described the incident as “a first in professional rugby” and that his organisation will conduct an investigation, prompting Lucien Harinordoquy to apologise for his behaviour.

“My apologies to the Aguilera crowd – Bayonne and Biarritz spectators, to both teams and their staff, to the French League and Federation as well as to the world of rugby in general,” he said.

“I was under pressure and, for other reasons, I lost control. I regret my behaviour.”

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