FIFA, the international football governing body, has opened disciplinary proceedings against the Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) over fans booing the Chinese national anthem ahead of the Hong Kong versus China World Cup qualifier at Mong Kok Stadium last Tuesday.

“Today, the HKFA has received an official letter from FIFA announcing that disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the HKFA. The letter also confirmed that the HKFA appeared to be in violation of the FIFA Regulations (article 65 ff of the FIFA Disciplinary Code).”

“The incident referred to is the booing of the National Anthem prior to the match. The HKFA is requested by FIFA to provide a statement and any supporting evidence that the HKFA may consider as relevant to the present case by 1st December.” HKFA said in a statement.

Hong Kong fans.
Hong Kong fans with “BOO” papers.

The HKFA added that the final result of FIFA disciplinary proceedings would be officially released after investigation of the incident by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee before the end of December.

Pui Kwan-kay, vice-chairman of HKFA, told Ming Pao that the punishment would likely be a fine, and point deduction from the Hong Kong team would be highly unlikely.

“The fans did not cause a nuisance, or stop the match, so it’s unlikely to be a point deduction.” Pui said.

Hong Kong former professional referee Thomson Chan Tam-sun also told the newspaper that “The atmosphere of the match was still positive, no one was attacking others, only some fans booed the anthem, FIFA monitoring staff at the match was a bit overreacting.”

Hong Kong striker Chan Siu-ki.
Hong Kong striker Chan Siu-ki.

Hong Kong team striker Chan Siu-ki posted 18 “Boo!” on his Facebook account after the HKFA statement went out.

The HKFA was fined CHF5,000 (HK$39,678) by FIFA in October after fans booed the Chinese anthem and threw a carton of lemon tea onto the pitch in another World Cup qualifier match against Qatar in September.

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.