Despite desperate pleas from the Hong Kong Football Association, football fans in Hong Kong continue to boo the Chinese national anthem at every opportunity.
Before an Asian Cup qualifier match against Malaysia last night, fans once again loudly booed as the “March of the Volunteers” played at Hong Kong Stadium, some even turned their backs as the anthem played and at least one held up a pro-independence banner.
Fans similarly jeered as the anthem played before a match last week against Laos, which led Hong Kong’s football authority to beg fans not to do it again — while noting that there was really nothing that it could do to stop them.
In fact, according to the South China Morning Post, this was the 14th home match in a row where fans protested by loudly voicing their disapproval for China’s national anthem. The trend began back in June 2015, about six months after the Umbrella Movement ended.
The HKFA was twice fined by FIFA in 2015 for its fans booing the anthem; however, since then the jeering has continued with no organizations imposing fines or penalties. The Asia Football Confederation has yet to propose any kind of punishment.
However, it appears that China may soon attempt to impose punishments of its own. At the beginning of the month, the country’s new national anthem went into effect. The law states that those who disrespect or mock the anthem can be detained for up to 15 days with possible criminal charges filed against them. While the law does not yet apply to Hong Kong or Macau, there are worries that it could be passed into legislation soon.
As a side note, Hong Kong won the match against Malaysia, keeping its hopes alive for qualifying for the Asia Cup tournament, so that fans will get to boo some more.
[Images via HK01.com]
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