China–Hong Kong football rivalry

Last updated
China-Hong Kong rivalry
Locale China and Hong Kong
Teams
First meetingHong Kong 1–4 China
Friendly
(7 February 1978)
Latest meetingHong Kong 0–2 China
2019 EAFF E-1 Football Championship
(18 December 2019)
Next meetingTBA
Statistics
Meetings total21
Most winsChina (14)
All-time seriesChina: 14
Draw: 5
Hong Kong: 3
Largest victoryChina 7–0 Hong Kong
2006 FIFA World Cup Q (AFC)
17 November 2004
China edcp location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Beijing
Red pog.svg
Hong Kong

The China–Hong Kong football rivalry is a sports rivalry between the national association football teams of the People's Republic of China and Hong Kong. [1] The rivalry has been exacerbated by Hong Kong's status as a Special Administrative Region of China, which means that it does not practise Communism as on the mainland, a legacy of having been under British colonial rule until the transfer of sovereignty in 1997. [2]

Contents

History

China and Hong Kong have been playing each other in football matches since a friendly in Hong Kong in 1978. [3] In 1985, Hong Kong, then a British dependent territory, played China in the AFC First Round 1986 FIFA World Cup qualification group. The final match at Workers’ Stadium, Beijing meant China only needed to avoid defeat to progress and Hong Kong had to win. Despite this, Hong Kong won 21. In response, Chinese fans blocked the Hong Kong team from leaving and started rioting in China's first known case of football hooliganism. [4]

In 1997, Hong Kong was handed over from the United Kingdom to China but was permitted to continue to field a separate national football team under the terms of the Sino-British Joint Declaration despite its new status as a Special Administrative Region of China under the One Country, Two Systems policy. [5] In 2003, when China and Hong Kong were drawn together during the AFC 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification, former Chinese national football team manager, Bora Milutinovic stated: "This is incredible. How can China play Hong Kong? Hong Kong is China. They are the same country." [6] During this campaign, China won both matches: winning 1–0 in Hong Kong and 7–0 in China.

In 2015, Hong Kong was drawn into the same group with China again for the third time. This time, Hong Kong held China to a goalless draw for both legs. Despite this, China still advanced to the next round. [7]

In 2019, Hong Kong was defeated 2-0 by China in the EAFF E-1 Football Championship. [8]

The "May 19 Incident"

In 1985, Hong Kong, then a British dependent territory, played China in the AFC First Round 1986 FIFA World Cup qualification group. The final match at Workers’ Stadium, Beijing meant China only needed to avoid defeat to progress and Hong Kong had to win. However, Cheung Chi Tak gave Hong Kong the lead in the 19th minute. Li Hui equalised 12 minutes later, but Ku Kam Fai's goal at 60 minutes gave Hong Kong the win. Chinese fans were deeply unsatisfied with the final result, and they blocked the Hong Kong team from leaving and started rioting in China's first known case of football hooliganism. It wasn't until 2002 that China finally qualified for the World Cup for the first time. [4]

2006 World Cup Qualifying

In 2003, China and Hong Kong were once again drawn into the same group (Group 4). The first match in Hong Kong resulted in a 0–1 loss for Hong Kong via a goal scored by Hao Haidong.

However, Kuwait later defeated China 1–0. China would have to defeat Hong Kong by a margin of 8 goals in order to advance. However, the final result was 7–0, 1 goal away from qualifying. Hong Kong goalkeeper Fan Chun Yip made many crucial saves in the tournament, including saving a penalty by Zheng Zhi, which "indirectly" prevented China from advancing. Fan was named by Mainland newspapers as "The Bane of China". Most Hong Kong fans honoured him as a hero. Oddly, Oriental Daily News mocked that Fan was "flaunting his superiority". [9]

2018 World Cup Qualifying

During 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying, China and Hong Kong were drawn in the same group for the second round. The political situation between the two countries had been made tenser by the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong in 2014. [10]

The first fixture was at Bao'an Stadium, Shenzhen. The match ended in a 0–0 draw. China had more possession as well as chances, but all of their attempts either hit the woodwork or were saved. In contrast, the Hong Kong team only had one close chance, as an attempt to directly score from a corner kick by Lam Ka Wai was punched away by the goalkeeper. In injury time, a header by Zhang Linpeng was blocked by Chan Siu Ki's outstretched arm. However, the referee did not award a penalty despite protests by the Chinese national team.

The second match in Mongkok Stadium, Hong Kong ended in a goalless draw too. Just like the first match, China had a lot of chances that either hit the woodwork or was saved by Yapp Hung-fai. The Hong Kong national team had several header chances in this match too, but Jaimes McKee's header hit the crossbar and Sandro's header hit the top of the net. This match was rather controversial, as a goal by Festus Baise from Hong Kong was not awarded as Paulinho fouled the Chinese goalkeeper, while the referee did not award Yu Dabao's goal as well despite the Chinese team's claims that the ball had completely crossed the line before Yapp pushed it back into play. The Chinese Football Association sacked manager Alain Perrin, something which the Hong Kong Football Association chairman, Brian Leung attributed to China's draws with Hong Kong. [11]

Racism and national anthem controversy

Prior to the first match in China, the Chinese Football Association released a poster calling the Hong Kong national football team "Hong Kong, China" [4] and stating "This team has players with black skin, yellow skin and white skin. Best to be on guard against such a multi-layered team!" in reference to the multi-racial Hong Kong national team. This was criticised as racist in Hong Kong. [10] In response Hong Kong fans in following matches started booing the Chinese national anthem "March of the Volunteers", played as Hong Kong's anthem since 1997 when it replaced "God Save the Queen". [12] [13] As a result of the booing, FIFA fined the Hong Kong Football Association HK$ 40,000. [14]

Hong Kong fans were warned not to insult the Chinese flag or anthem to "endanger national security" at the risk of being arrested. [15] The match ended 0-0, where the People's Armed Police attended armed with riot control equipment. [16] On the day of the return match between Hong Kong and China at Mong Kok Stadium in Hong Kong, the 500 Chinese away fans were escorted from the border crossing at Shenzhen to the stadium and entering in a separate entrance while being abused by Hong Kong fans. [2] The Hong Kong Police Force had 1,300 officers, approximately one for every five spectators, on duty for the match. [17] Inside, the Chinese fans waved red flags, a symbol of communism which is not practiced in Hong Kong, and sung Chinese Communist songs. Hong Kong fans responded by chanting "We are Hong Kong" and held up banners saying "Hong Kong is not China" in English. [2] When "March of the Volunteers" was played, Hong Kong fans booed it while also turning their backs and holding up signs with "boo" written on them. [18] Because of the booing of the Chinese national anthem, FIFA fined the Hong Kong Football Association HK$78,000 for a repeat offense. [19] In 2016 at Hong Kong's first home match for a year against the Cambodia national football team at Mong Kok Stadium, the Hong Kong fans continued to boo the Chinese national anthem. [20] Hong Kong fans have also booed the Chinese national anthem in matches against Bhutan and Maldives, and also on other occasions.

Hong Kong football fans have booed the Chinese national anthem on different occasions in 2017 as well, for example in a 2–0 win against Malaysia and a 0–2 loss against Bahrain. This caused the PRC to pass a law that people who disrespect the national anthem can be penalised or sent to prison. [21]

Tsun Dai national team controversy

Tsun Dai, a Hong Kong professional footballer, is the second Hong Kong player to appear in an English professional match, and has played for Bury, Oxford United and Wolverhampton Wanderers. He holds both a Hong Kong and British passport and therefore is eligible to play for either Hong Kong, China or England.

In September 2018 Dai was called up to the preliminary squad of the Hong Kong national team. [22] Although it was initially reported that he had declined a Hong Kong call up due to injury, he later accepted a call up during the same window to a China under-21 training camp led by Guus Hiddink in Amsterdam. [23] Two weeks after the camp, Dai was once again named in Hong Kong's preliminary squad for the 2019 EAFF E-1 Football Championship qualifiers. [24]

Many Hong Kong fans were angry about Dai joining the Chinese training camp, with many labeling him a "betrayer" on social media and asking him to never return to the city. Hong Kong coach at that time Gary White said that he would continue keeping Dai on his radar and try to put the best people on the field for Hong Kong, but if someone doesn't want to come, "they don't want to come". [25]

Dai claimed that it was "too sensitive" for him to say whether he would play for China or not. [26]

In 2019, Dai sparked controversy again during the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests. Dai posted a picture of Hong Kong police on Facebook, and expressing his support for them. Many Hong Kong netizens criticized Dai for supporting the HK police. Dai deleted the post after the backlash. [27]

2019 EAFF E-1 Football Championship

Hong Kong played China once again in the 2019 EAFF E-1 Football Championship Finals in South Korea, the ongoing anti-government protests in Hong Kong. Prior the match, mainland media reported that the "bottom line" for Chinese caretaker coach Li Tie is to beat Hong Kong and avoid finish bottom of the group. [28]

During the match, there was an increased amount of police presence to counter fears of trouble from either set of fans. Security screening checked banners containing political slogans on their way to into the stadium, but some still made their way into the stadium, including a black flag bearing the protest slogan "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times" and a British colonial flag. There were also reports of a confrontation between Hong Kong supporters and security guards. There were around 20 fans from China and nearly 200 fans from Hong Kong during the match, who loudly booed the Chinese national anthem once again before the match. However, footage of supporters booing the anthem was cut out by both CCTV in the mainland and HK Open TV in Hong Kong.

China scored an early goal in the 8th minute, as Hong Kong's lone striker Giovane was unable to clear a corner and the ball fell to Ji Xiang, who scored from close range. Hong Kong pushed back and Giovane's shot from the edge of the box with tipped onto the crossbar by Chinese goalkeeper Liu Dianzuo. Giovane had another effort before the half but it was saved ss well.

In the second half, a deep free kick by Hong Kong found Tan Chun Lok but Chinese captain Yu Dabao was able to block the shot. Chinese player Li Ang also came close with 2 free kicks, but they were both saved by Yapp Hung-fai. Hong Kong defender Helio brought down Dong Xuesheng in the 71st minute, and Zhang Xizhe scored the resulting penalty. Despite Hong Kong's late pushback, China went on to win the game 2–0. [29]

Club football

Chinese clubs had previously set up satellite teams to compete in Hong Kong's football leagues. Starting with Dongguan Lanwa, who were then replaced after two years by Chinese Super League team Chengdu Blades' reserve team, Sheffield United. [30] In 2016, Guangzhou R&F F.C., after receiving approval from the Hong Kong Football Association, created R&F F.C. for their youth team to compete in the Hong Kong Premier League. There was an arrangement that the players would reside in Guangzhou but play their home matches in Hong Kong and that they had to field Hong Kong eligible players. [31] There were opposition to R&F's participation in Hong Kong football, with the perception that the Chinese team were being given preferential treatment to compete in the Hong Kong Premier League ahead of local Hong Kong clubs. [30] In 2015, the Chinese Football Association changed their policy in that Hong Kong players in the Chinese Super League would from 2016 be registered as foreign players rather than as "local players". Such change is partially viewed among Hong Kong players as being done because Hong Kong players were able to earn more in deeper-pocketed Chinese clubs due to the players' "local player" statuses, despite the Hong Kong Football Association's independence. [32]

At the club level, Hong Kong and Chinese teams rarely play each other, since the league structure in Hong Kong is far smaller and weaker than that of China's. In the 2017 AFC Champions League, Hong Kong club Eastern SC and Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande were drawn together into Group G. Teams will play each other on 22 February in Guangzhou and 25 April in Hong Kong. [33] On 22 February, Hong Kong club Eastern lost 7–0 to Guangzhou in match played in Tianhe Stadium. They lost the return fixture 6–0 in Mong Kok Stadium, Hong Kong. For the 2018 AFC Champions League, Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian and Hong Kong club Kitchee were drawn in the same group. On 13 February 2018, Tianjin Quanjian defeated Kitchee 3–0 in China. On 4 April 2018, Kitchee lost to Tianjin Quanjian again at home, this time 0–1.

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