Footy boo-boys back in action

Local | Phoenix Un 15 Nov 2017

Hong Kong football fans booed the national anthem again before the Asian Cup qualifiers home game against Lebanon last night.

That came as the Hong Kong Bar Association expressed it concerns over the national anthem law to senior officials in Beijing.

Last night was the first formal game the Hong Kong team played after the national anthem law was listed in the Basic Law Annex III two weeks ago.

Before the game started, the Chinese anthem was played, which prompted boos from fans, while others remained seated. In extreme cases, a few fans turned their back to the pitch, while some even raised their middle fingers. Nonetheless dozens of patriots, concentrated in an area behind one of the goals, held the national flag.

Police were deployed on the streets leading to Hong Kong Stadium, where the game was played, and plain-clothed officers were also spotted in the stands.

Fans were made to unfurl their flags during security checks. Hong Kong lost the game 1-0.

Hong Kong Football Association vice chairman Pui Kwan-kay said the Asian Football Confederation had already issued a warning to Hong Kong after the qualifier against Malaysia. "The HKFA will probably be fined, but closed-door game punishment is unlikely."

Pui also said the AFC had sent an official to supervise the game and report on whether spectators booed during the national anthem. Local fans have booed the anthem on several occasions, including during a World Cup qualifier against Qatar.

Meanwhile, a Bar Association delegation met with Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office director Zhang Xiaoming in the capital yesterday.

Bar chairman Paul Lam Ting-kwok said he expressed concerns on two points on the national anthem legislation to Zhang during the meeting.

"The content of local legislation should be clear, so that Hongkongers know what they can do and what they can't, and in addition many people are concerned about the relationship between the national anthem law and freedom of speech," he said.

Lam also said the Bar will focus on these two points when the bill is drafted.

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