The Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) said Friday that FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against it in relation to incidents that took place during the recent Hong Kong vs. Qatar match.

In a letter sent to HKFA, FIFA, the international governing body of football, was concerned about a Hong Kong fan throwing a 250ml lemon tea carton onto the field aiming at Qatar’s player number 10. It was also concerned about Hong Kong fans booing at the Chinese national anthem.

FIFA stated that these two incidents appeared to be a violation of its disciplinary code and stadium safety and security regulations.

The Hong Kong national football team.
The Hong Kong national football team. Photo: HKFA.

CEO of HKFA Mark Sutcliffe said, “It is regrettable that despite continuous pleas for fans to behave themselves, it appears that the behaviour of a small minority of fans has placed the HKFA in this potentially damaging situation.”

He said the HKFA was required to provide relevant information to FIFA before September 22.

FIFA will decide if any action should be taken at the next meeting with information submitted by HKFA and all other available evidence.

In the World Cup qualifier match which Hong Kong lost 2-3 to Qatar on September 8, Hong Kong fans once again jeered at the Chinese national anthem as it played before the kick-off at Mong Kok Stadium.

It was the third time that fans did so following similar scenes at home matches against Bhutan and Maldives in June.

In July, the Hong Kong Football Association received a warning letter from FIFA stating that it may be penalised if fans booed at the anthem again.

Possible FIFA sanctions could include fines, point deductions or having to play the next home qualifier, which would be against China in November, behind closed doors.

Hong Kong’s next qualifier is an away game in Bhutan in October.

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.