FIFA fines Hong Kong soccer body for China anthem protest
ZURICH (AP) — FIFA has fined Hong Kong’s soccer federation 15,000 Swiss francs ($15,100) for fans disrespecting the Chinese national anthem before a World Cup qualifying game last month.
Hong Kong fans booed and turned their backs when the anthem was played for their team before a Sept. 10 qualifier at home against Iran.
The game took place amid ongoing pro-democracy protests against China’s rule of Hong Kong, which was under British rule until 1997.
FIFA said Wednesday the charge against Hong Kong was “disturbance during national anthems; use of objects to transmit a message that is not appropriate for a sports event.”
Hong Kong, which lost 2-0 to Iran, has its next home game on Nov. 14 against Bahrain.
The game was suspended for several minutes late in the second half because of clashes between fans. Malaysia won 3-2 with a goal in the seventh minute of stoppage time.
FIFA warned Malaysia a first time for its fans’ lack of discipline and throwing objects, and again for lack of order in its own stadium days later when hosting a qualifier against the United Arab Emirates.
After crowd disturbances at Sierra Leone’s home qualifier against Liberia last month, FIFA imposed a 50,000 Swiss francs ($50,250) fine and ordered a home game to be played in an empty stadium.
Sierra Leone was eliminated and the punishment should be served at a qualifying game for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
Sudan’s soccer federation was fined 30,000 Swiss francs ($30,150) for a pitch invasion by fans at a game against Chad.