HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s football authority announced a slew of measures to punish and prevent racist behavior at games, after Philippine football chiefs complained to Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) about racist abuse of its players and fans.
The moves could see home and away supporters being segregated and will impose bans on abusive fans.
Hong Kong supporters hurled rubbish and insults at rival players and fans during a June 4, friendly won by the visiting Philippine team, according to the Philippine Sports Commission.
Sections of the home crowd called the Philippines a “slave nation” during the game and booed the Philippines national anthem when it was played, media reports from the southern Chinese city and the Philippines said.
The Hong Kong Football Association said late Friday that it will ban fans who are being racist and discriminatory for two years in accordance with FIFA Statutes and will consider formal segregation of seating for opposing spectators on a match-by-match basis.
The association also said it will make public announcements to warn fans of the consequences of using racist language and will work with the police in apprehending “spectators engaged in racist activity”.
“The allegation of disrespectful and discriminatory behaviour by home fans is the first incident of this nature at a football match in Hong Kong,” the association said, adding the accusations were levelled against “a small minority of people”.
“No amount of political tension or provocation or frustration can justify any incidence of racist or discriminatory behaviour,” it added.
Tensions between the Philippines and Hong Kong, which employs tens of thousands of Filipina maids, have simmered since a bungled rescue attempt by Filipino police of Hong Kong tourists taken hostage by a rogue police officer in 2010.
The fiasco left eight Hong Kong tourists and the hostage-taker dead.
The city’s administration has maintained a black “outbound travel alert” for the Philippines since the incident, telling residents to “avoid all travel” to the island nation.
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