The Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) has been slapped a $33,150 fine by FIFA because of alleged racist behavior by some fans aimed at the Filipinos during the game between Hong Kong and the Philippine Azkals last June 4.
The FIFA Disciplinary Committee met to consider the incidents on November 6, 2013. On the night in question it is alleged that a minority of Hong Kong supporters were guilty of racial discrimination and throwing missiles.
The HKFA, through Chief Executive Officer Mark Sutcliffe, expressed their disappointment with the sanction.
“We are disappointed with this initial decision and we reserve the right to lodge a formal appeal once we have been given more information on the grounds for this decision. I wasn’t at the match but I reviewed all of the evidence and prepared a detailed report on the incidents for FIFA,” Sutcliffe said.
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“In my opinion, the incidents were very minor in nature and there was significant provocation by a number of the Philippine players,” he added. “Having said that we do not condone any acts of violence or racial discrimination and as I stated publically before, we will implement stadium bans on any individuals convicted of an offence of this nature.”
The Azkals won 1-0 in that friendly thanks to a goal by James Younghusband. After the match, Filipinos who witnessed the game live complained about the treatment they got from some of Hong Kong’s fans.
According to the Filipinos, they were pelted with water bottles and other trash. There was also booing during the playing of the Philippine national anthem.
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“The most important thing is that we have learnt from this match and shortly after it the Board approved new guidelines on match-day organization, which we have already implemented. This includes a mandatory Risk Assessment for all matches, the possibility of crowd segregation as circumstances dictate and the appointment of an Independent Security Adviser,” added the CEO. “There have been a number of matches since and no further problems have been experienced. We understand why FIFA is taking a firm line on this issue and we support any action designed to eradicate discrimination. However it is disappointing that the behavior of a few unruly individuals has resulted in the HKFA being fined.”
Since that match Hong Kong climbed up the FIFA rankings as they are now at the 137th place while the Philippines holds the 127th spot.
“It would be much better if this money was spent on football development in Hong Kong rather than going into the coffers of FIFA," Stucliffe closed. "This is a salutary lesson for all of us and I hope that our supporters take note of the consequences of their actions.”