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By ESPN Staff

Visa problems jeopardise China's Chelsea visit

BEIJING, Jan 18 (Reuters) - The Chinese Olympic team's two-week stay at Chelsea's training ground next month has been jeopardised by visa problems, local media reported on Thursday.

The Chinese under-21 squad are in France playing a series of friendlies and scheduled to arrive at the English champions' state of the art centre in Cobham, Surrey, on Feb. 1.

But a failure to apply in time for their visas from the British consulate at Marseilles may force them to reconsider their London trip and stay on in France, sohu.com reported.

'The Chinese embassy in France has contacted the British embassy in Paris about the issue,' an official surnamed Chen at the Chinese consulate in Marseille told the Web site.

'But their visa applications will probably not be accepted because of the procedural problems...'

The British embassy in Paris had agreed to try to help out by checking with their colleagues in Beijing, but it might still take too long, the official added.

Serbian team manager Ratomir Dujkovic missed the first match of the French tour, a 0-0 draw with amateur club St O Cassis on Jan. 9, because of a problem with his visa.

Chelsea's offer to host China's squad for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and hold seminars on technical, coaching and medical issues is part of the club's Asian marketing strategy.