The Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) has been fined again by the international governing body of football, FIFA, because fans booed the Chinese national anthem at its World Cup qualifier versus China last November.

FIFA had opened disciplinary proceedings against the HKFA after the match.

FIFA has notified HKFA that it has imposed a fine of 10,000 Swiss francs (HK$77,234) on Hong Kong as a result of supporters apparently booing the anthem at the team’s World Cup qualifier against China, held at the Mong Kok Stadium on November 17.

Hong Kong fans with “BOO” papers at the November 2015 match.
Hong Kong fans holding signs reading “BOO” at the November 2015 match.

“The notification states clearly that; ‘The Hong Kong Football Association is liable for the improper conduct among the supporters of its team and is therefore in violation of articles 67 par. 1 and 3 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code’,” read a statement from the HKFA.

“Moreover, FIFA has warned the HKFA as to its future conduct according to article 13 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code that any further infringements will lead to harsher sanctions. The HKFA would like to request Hong Kong fans to refrain from such action at all future matches so to avoid future sanctions.”

Last year, the HKFA was warned by FIFA after fans booed the anthem during a World Cup qualifier against Bhutan, and it was then fined HK$40,000 for fans booing the anthem and throwing a carton of drink at an opposition player during a match against Qatar.

The FIFA document.
The FIFA document. Click to view. Photo: HKFP.

In an earlier document from FIFA, it was wrongly stated that HKFA was fined for a World Cup qualifier against China in Shenzhen last September. It said HKFA was punished for a CHN v. HKG match, which meant an away game in China for Hong Kong.

About 2,000 Hong Kong fans travelled to Shenzhen for the match, and some of their props to be used in cheering for the team were confiscated by mainland police. Fans and media did not notice any jeers at the time.

The fans’ group The Power of Hong Kong suspected that the fine should be for the November match, before the HKFA statement was issued.

“We know there should be some punishment, but we think FIFA has mentioned the wrong match,” said Ng Cheuk-hang, a member of the group.

“The paperwork from FIFA has always been messy, not to mention Sepp Blatter,” he added. Blatter, former president of FIFA, was banned from football for eight years in December.

In the FIFA document that mentioned the disciplinary actions for matches against Bhutan and Qatar, Hong Kong’s abbreviation was also wrongly rendered as HGK, and not the usual HKG.

Hong Kong’s next qualifier is an away game in Qatar on March 24.

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.