Hong Kong’s Football Association could be fined by FIFA if fans continue to boo at their own national anthem.

The warning from the international football association comes after fans of the Hong Kong national team booed the Chinese national anthem at the start of two World Cup qualifying matches a few months ago.

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Hong Kong team. Photo: Hong Kong Football Association.

A letter sent by FIFA’s disciplinary body to the HKFA on July 2 said booing the national anthem breached the organisation’s disciplinary code and warned that further sanctions could be imposed “in the case of serious disturbances”.

The letter goes on to say: “We would like to highlight that the spectators shall respect at all times the principles of fair play. In particular, those principles shall apply towards the opposing association and its representative team but also towards your own association and its representative team.”

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FIFA’s letter to the HKFA warning them that they could be fined for booing the national anthem. Photo: HKGolden.

FIFA’s disciplinary regulations say “improper conduct” includes displaying any “insulting or political slogans in any form” or “uttering insulting words or sounds”. Further sanctions can include being forced to play the match behind closed doors, a forfeit of the match, a points reduction and even disqualification from the World Cup.

The HKFA released a statement, saying: “The HKFA sincerely hopes that the spectators can respect the principles of fair play in the coming matches and put the benefit of Hong Kong Representative Team into highest consideration.”

Hong Kong fans booing the Chinese national anthem began in response to a controversial poster put out by the Chinese Football Association describing the multi-racial Hong Kong team as “multi-layered”. Members of the Hong Kong public described the poster as racist and fans watching the territory’s first 2018 World Cup qualifying match against Bhutan booed the Chinese national anthem as it played in the stadium.

The same happened again in the city’s match against the Maldives. In a video by online news website Passion Times a yellow umbrella can be clearly seen in the crowd of Hong Kong fans.

【香港 Vs 馬爾代夫】再噓義勇軍進行曲繼上場對不丹之後,今晚開賽前奏起《義勇軍進行曲》的一刻,全場又再報以噓聲。不過安坐家中的球迷就無緣見證,因為TVB J2當刻仍在賣廣告。(7:55 PM)

Posted by PassionTimes 熱血時報 on Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Netizens on the online forum HKGolden reacted angrily to FIFA’s response. One person asked: “Is there a problem with booing your own fake national anthem?”, whilst another person said they would just “boo louder”.

Hong Kong are currently at the top of group C in the World Cup qualification matches ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. So far Hong Kong have won matches against Bhutan (7-0) and the Maldives (2-0).

Hong Kong will play against China in Shenzhen on September 3, and back at home on November 17. They will play against Qatar on September 8.

Vicky is a British-born Chinese journalist with three years of experience covering UK politics. She previously worked for PoliticsHome and has interned at Sky News and CNN International. She also co-produced and filmed a documentary about the Hong Kong protests for MSNBC, which won the grand student prize at the 2015 Human Rights Press Awards. She has a BA in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading and moved to Hong Kong in 2014 to complete a journalism masters at the University of Hong Kong.