Political tensions between China and Hong Kong reached the world of sports again on Tuesday, when thousands of Hong Kong soccer fans loudly booed and turned their backs as the Chinese national anthem was played before a soccer friendly against Iran, according to the Associated Press.
In response to the anthem, the fans at Hong Kong stadium reportedly sang “Glory to Hong Kong,” an online crowd-composed song that has recently become popular with protesters and been called Hong Kong’s new national anthem.
The crowd also reportedly chanted “Fight for freedom” and “Revolution of our Times” after the match began and formed a human chain inside the stadium at halftime. Hong Kong eventually lost 2-0 to Iran.
Security was reportedly tight at the stadium, frisking the 14,000 fans attending the game for political materials and other prohibited items.
The Iranian side was reportedly so concerned about the political unrest that it requested to move the match. FIFA rejected the request.
Why are Hong Kong fans protesting?
The always tense relationship between China and Hong Kong has experienced even more unrest since June, when a since-withdrawn bill was proposed in the city-state that would have allowed for the extradition of residents to mainland China for trial.
Such protests have reached soccer before, when Manchester City played a local team in July.
The proposal immediately sparked widespread protests, some violent, that have continued even after the bill was pulled. Activists are now demanding an independent investigation into alleged police brutality against protesters, the release of all detained protesters and democratic reforms.
Amnesty International has posted footage showing police officers beating subdued protesters, firing rubber bullets at protesters’ heads and shooting tear gas at protesters trapped in confined areas.
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