Hong Kong - FIFA has fined Hong Kong after
fans jeered the Chinese national anthem during a crunch World Cup qualifier
last year, the city's football authorities said on Thursday, the second penalty in
four months for such an offence.
Hong Kong fans jeered and turned their
backs during the "March of the Volunteers" anthem, which the
semi-autonomous territory shares with China, at a match between the city's side
and the Chinese national team last November that ended in a goalless draw.
They also held up white signs saying
"boo" in English at the city's Mong Kok Stadium, which segregated
fans from both teams using separate entrances and even different toilets in a
bid to head off any potential trouble.
"The Hong Kong Football Association
has been fined 10 000 Swiss francs regarding the incident of the booing of the national
anthem by the Hong Kong fans," said a statement published on the Association's
website Thursday, citing a FIFA notification.
"The HKFA is liable for the improper
conduct among the supporters of its team," the statement said, adding that
any future infringements "will lead to harsher sanctions".
The fine is double the amount of a previous
fine issued in October when the HKFA was charged 5 000 Swiss francs after fans
again jeered the Chinese national anthem and threw a drink at a rival player
during a September match.
The joint 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup
qualifiers follows the "Umbrella Movement" pro-democracy protests in
2014, which gripped the city and underlined discontent with Beijing's rule.
Fans' anger against China was also stoked
in June of last year when a promotional poster used by the China Football
Association described the city's team as "black skinned, white skinned and
yellow skinned," which Hong Kong supporters criticised as racist.
China's perennially underachieving national
team sacked its national coach Alain Perrin last Friday after a disappointing
run of results left their World Cup qualifying campaign hanging by a thread.