Hong Kong beat Malaysia, 2-0, to keep its hopes alive in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in a match marred by booing of the Chinese national anthem by some local fans.
The incident happened after China implemented a new law designed to ensure the dignity of the national anthem. A similar law is expected to be enacted in Hong Kong soon, Apple Daily reports.
It was reminiscent of a similar incident in November 2015 when fans booed the Chinese national anthem during a match between Hong Kong and China at the Mong Kok Stadium for the qualifying round of the 2018 World Cup.
The Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) was later fined 10,000 Swiss francs (US$10,264) for repeated violations of the disciplinary code of word football’s governing body FIFA.
The HKFA could again face a hefty penalty from FIFA as a result of the latest incident.
Several fans ignored calls by the HKFA and Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung to behave.
While the March of Volunteers was being played, boos were heard from the stadium, with some fans turning their backs on the field or crossing their arms in protest.
A Hong Kong independence banner was also seen at the venue, despite stringent security checks.
The HKFA warned that it might be forced to stage future matches behind closed doors if the fans continue to misbehave.
Tuesday’s victory was important for Hong Kong which beat Malaysia for the first time since 2004.
The locals had faced a “win or go home” predicament after the two teams played to a 1-1 tie in a qualifier held in Malaysia last month.
Hong Kong bolstered its chances of qualifying for the Asian Cup finals to be held in the United Arab Emirates in January 2019.
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