HONG KONG, Oct 31 (Reuters) - The Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) was warned by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Tuesday over the conduct of fans who booed the Chinese national anthem last month.
A small section of supporters jeered during the playing of ‘The March of the Volunteers’ and turned their backs on the Chinese flag ahead of a 2-0 win for the former British colony over Malaysia at Hong Kong Stadium in qualifying for the Asian Cup finals.
The AFC’s disciplinary committee warned the HKFA in a statement issued on Tuesday that “a repeat violation may result in more severe punishment”.
Football matches have increasingly become venues for the voicing of discontent from those in Hong Kong who are unhappy with China’s role in running the city since it took over following the handover of sovereignty from Britain in 1997.
The HKFA has previously been fined by FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, over the booing of China’s national anthem.
China passed a law in September stating that disrespecting the anthem could result in 15 days’ imprisonment. The law has come into force in China but has yet to be extended to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s next home game will be on Nov. 14 when Kim Pan-gon’s team take on Lebanon in qualifying for the 2019 Asian Cup finals. (Reporting in Hong Kong by Michael Church, Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)