A group of veteran Hong Kong footballers and a referee who represented Taiwan from the 1950s to 1970s have been awarded Taiwanese passports in recognition of their contributions towards the country’s standing in the international football scene.

The team of 18 players plus a referee represented Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), in the Olympics, the Asian Games, the Asian Cup and the Malaysian Merdeka Tournament from the 1950s through the 1970s. The team won the 1954 and 1958 Asian Games football tournaments.

After retiring from the professional circuit, the team played under the name “Republic of China Veteran Football Team,” Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported.

Yen Chung-kuang, Director General of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Hong Kong, awarded ROC passports to members of the team—who are now in their 60s and 70s—on behalf of the Taiwanese government on Wednesday.

Cheung Chi-doy and team of Hong Kong players were awarded Republic of China passports.
Veteran Hong Kong footballers, including Cheung Chi-doy (pictured), were awarded Republic of China passports. and WikiCommons.

He thanked them for their contributions towards Taiwan and said that the team had continued to support the ROC government even after retirement.

Yen added that members of the team had expressed wishes for Taiwanese passports and that the government made the decision to grant them through a special scheme.

Cheung Chi-doy, one of the best-known players of the team, was the first and only Hong Kong footballer to play for a top-flight English club. He had a two-year stint with Blackpool F.C.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.