Taiwan on Wednesday demanded organisers of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar correct an official fan identification card which labels its citizens as Chinese, and urged that politics be kept out of sports.
The “Hayya” fan ID card acts as a visa to enter the country and a pass to access stadiums.
But neither Taiwan or “Chinese Taipei” — the name used for the island in international sports events — are listed on the online portal as options.
China claims self-ruled, democratic Taiwan as part of its territory, a stance Taipei firmly rejects.
The island lives under the constant threat of invasion by China, which Beijing has vowed to retake one day, by force if necessary.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry said it has demanded that organisers in Qatar correct its “unfriendly” and “improper” measures against Taiwanese fans, said spokeswoman Joanne Ou in a statement.
“We again urge the World Cup organisers not to allow improper political factors to interfere in a pure sports event … to let sports be sports and return a clean World Cup to global fans,” she said.
The issue of Taiwan’s name has cropped up in nearly every major global sporting event, as authoritarian China baulks against even the merest signal of the island’s sovereignty.
The sporting world’s use of the name “Chinese Taipei” is based on a 1981 compromise made with the International Olympic Committee to allow Taiwan to compete on the international stage.
Hayya programme chief Saeed al-Kuwari told reporters he “believed” the card system would list China for the nationality of Taiwanese passport holders.
He said fans should follow the country designation provided when the application reads the fan’s passport, rather than try to select a nationality.
Organisers have insisted that all nationalities will be welcomed to the tournament.
Qatar is expecting more than one million fans to visit during the World Cup, which runs from November 21 to December 18, and all must register for the ID card.
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