Hong Kongers ‘Boo’ The Chinese National Anthem At World Cup Qualifier

This is not the first time pro-democracy protests happened in a sporting event.

by Meera Navlakha
11 September 2019, 7:33am

Football fans demonstrate inside Hong Kong Stadium in support of anti-government protesters as Hong Kong takes on Iran in World Cup qualifiers, in Hong Kong, September 10, 2019. (Photo by Athit Perawongmetha via Reuters)

From the airport to parks, pro-democracy protesters have taken their rallies to many landmarks in Hong Kong. The latest? Protesters “booing” the Chinese national anthem “March of the Volunteers” during a World Cup qualifier match between Hong Kong and Iran at the Hong Kong Stadium yesterday.

According to the South China Morning Post, protesters also formed a long human chain during the game, after a call to do so was posted online. The televised game was attended by 13,942 people.

Before the game kicked off, hundreds of fans sang “Glory to Hong Kong,” a song which many Hong Kongers are touting as their new national anthem.

The Wall Street Journal reported that some even raised their middle fingers as the Chinese national anthem played, while others turned their backs away from the field.

The act is particularly defiant at the moment, as a proposed anthem law is still in the works. The bill, which has not been withdrawn, would make any insult or alteration to the Chinese national anthem a criminal act. Offenders could face up to three years of prison time or a fine of HK$50,000 (approx. US$6,400).

As a Special Administrative Region of China, Hong Kong officially adopted the Chinese anthem as their own after the 1997 handover.

This isn’t the first time for Hong Kongers to protest during a football game. In November 2015, following the large-scale Umbrella Movement protests, football fans booed the Chinese national anthem during a game where Hong Kong faced off with the mainland’s team. Similar protests have increased since then.

For the last 14 weeks, Hong Kongers have protested an extradition bill which has now been withdrawn officially. But rallies continue as their demands have expanded.

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