Chinese football fans unfurled an anti-Hong Kong independence banner during a football game between the territories’ respective league champions on Tuesday evening.
“Annihilate British dogs, wipe out Hong Kong independence,” read the banner hoisted by some away fans at Mong Kok Stadium, as Guangzhou Evergrande beat Eastern Sports Club 6:0.
The banner was displayed during the final moments of the Asian Champions League group stage match.
Local newspaper Apple Daily reported that some Eastern supporters responded by shouting “Shina dogs” – referencing a derogatory term for Chinese people used during World War Two.
In videos seen by HKFP, rival fans were also filmed confronting each other beneath the terraces – separated by security personnel and advertising barriers on the sidelines.
They were filmed chanting “fuck your mother” towards each other, as Evergrande fans were filmed repeatedly singing the Chinese national anthem.
Independent video group SocRec reported that only Hong Kong identity card holders were allowed into the main stand of the stadium – where Eastern fans watched the game.
Evergrande’s World Cup-winning Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said that he did not see the incident, reported online outlet InMedia.
Eastern’s head coach – female pioneer Chan Yuen-ting – likewise said she did not clearly see the offensive banner. She said she believed that the Asian Football Confederation would deal with the matter seriously.
According to the disciplinary and ethics code of the Asian Football Confederation, a club whose spectators display “insulting, religious, or political slogans” can be punished with a fine of US$2,000 (HK$15,500) per banner.
Some away fans disagreed with the provocation, however. Screenshots of an Evergrande supporters’ WeChat messaging group seen by HKFP showed members calling those who unfurled banners “hooligans.”
“I cannot accept that a bunch of hooligans represent Guangzhou,” wrote one WeChat user. “I also cannot accept that these hooligans provoke tensions between Guangzhou and Hong Kong.”
“Can they not see that Hong Kong is helping to develop Cantonese culture?”
“I don’t know if I’ll be beaten up next time I go to Hong Kong,” wrote another Guangzhou supporter in the group.
The previous match played in Guangzhou in February ended 7:0 to Evergrande after Eastern had two players sent off.
Some Hong Kong fans complained of being unable to purchase tickets, while Evergrande supporters reportedly called Eastern’s players “Hong Kong dogs” as they arrived in Guangzhou.
The incidents come after the Hong Kong Football Association was twice fined in 2015 by football’s international governing body FIFA, because Hong Kong fans booed the Chinese national anthem during World Cup qualifier games.
As Hong Kong is regarded as a special administrative region of China, the Chinese national anthem is played before games involving the representative team.
Last week, the Hong Kong police arrested a 31-year-old on the charge of accessing a computer with criminal or dishonest intent, for allegedly making online comments threatening the evening’s match.
Police said that the man had threatened violence and arson, but denied that he was motivated by politics.
HKFP has contacted the Asian Football Confederation for comment on Tuesday’s incidents.