HONG KONG - The Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) has been fined by FIFA after fans booed the Chinese national anthem and threw an object on the pitch during a World Cup qualifier last month.
Football's world governing body released a statement on Tuesday saying it had fined the HKFA 5,000 Swiss Francs (S$7,275) over the incidents in the Sept. 8 match between Hong Kong and Qatar.
"After analysing all the circumstances of the matter, in particular the match officials' reports, Hong Kong Football Association's position as well as a previous warning imposed on the association, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee decided to sanction the Hong Kong FA with a fine of CHF 5,000 and a warning as to its future conduct after being found to have violated articles... of the FIFA Disciplinary Code," FIFA said.
Although Hong Kong has a separate team for international football tournaments, it has shared the same national anthem as mainland China since Britain handed the former colony back to China in 1997.
Before the match, fans jeered when the Chinese anthem played and someone threw an object on the field, in breach of FIFA's strict rules for crowd behaviour.
Anti-Chinese sentiment has been rising in Hong Kong since last year's mass pro-democracy protests, which crippled parts of Hong Kong and presented China's Communist Party leadership with one of its biggest political challenges in decades.
Following the latest incident, the HKFA has appealed for fans not to jeer the anthem in future, saying there would be heavier penalties in store if there was a further repeat.
"FIFA has warned the HKFA that any further infringements will lead to more severe sanctions," HKFA said. "The HKFA would like to request Hong Kong fans to refrain from such action at all future matches so to avoid future sanctions."