21 September 2019
Hong Kong fans make their sentiments known in last week's World Cup qualifier match against the mainland. Photo: Reuters
Hong Kong fans make their sentiments known in last week's World Cup qualifier match against the mainland. Photo: Reuters

FIFA probes booing of national anthem at HK-China match

FIFA, the world’s football governing body, has opened disciplinary proceedings against the Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) concerning the booing of the Chinese national anthem by local fans before the start of the World Cup qualifier game between Hong Kong and the mainland on Nov. 17.

In a letter to the HKFA, FIFA said the Hong Kong football body appeared to be in violation of FIFA regulations, Ming Pao Daily reported on Wednesday.

It asked the HKFA to provide a statement and any supporting evidence that the HKFA may consider as relevant to the case before Dec. 1.

The final result of the FIFA disciplinary proceedings will be officially released after the investigation by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee by the end of the year.

The HKFA was fined 5,000 Swiss francs (HK$39,000) after some Hong Kong fans booed the national anthem during the qualifier match against Qatar on Sept. 8.

FIFA warned the local football association of more severe sanctions should a similar offense recur.

HKFA vice chairman Pui Kwan-kay said he knew there could be trouble after a FIFA official was seen filming some local fans while the national anthem was being played last week.

He said a heavier punishment should still be a fine, adding that the chance of a point deduction is slim as no riots occurred and the match was not halted.

Pui said he would hold meetings with the HKFA management and work out proper explanations to FIFA.

He also called on football fans not to boo the national anthem or take any action that would violate FIFA regulations.

Pui hoped local fans could follow the example of British fans and players who joined their French counterparts in singing the French national anthem during a friendly game between the two countries shortly after the terrorist attacks in Paris.

Former international football referee Thomson Chan Tam-Sun said the booing incident was being blown out of proportion by the FIFA supervisor who monitored the game.

“If he needs to report incidents like this to FIFA, then fans using foul language could be a case for disciplinary hearings,” Tam said.

Hong Kong team striker Chan Siu-ki posted 18 “Boo!” on his Facebook page about an hour after the HKFA announced the FIFA investigation.

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