Don't talk of love, show us you really care for soccer

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 July, 2006, 12:00am

Home Affairs Secretary Patrick Ho Chi-ping's opinion piece 'A city's love affair with football' (July 10) describes a glamorous soccer history in which every resident can take pride. But those magnificent days are bygones and Hong Kong soccer has been relegated to a world ranking of 153, putting us way behind once easily defeated rivals South Korea and Japan, and even war-torn places like Palestine.

Hong Kong people have lost their hope in local soccer and refocused their burning passion on European leagues and stars like David Beckham. The future is gloomy but, apart from dwelling on the past and offering impractical suggestions, the government does nothing to revive soccer and declines to give financial assistance to Hong Kong's dedicated players, who are forced to take part-time jobs to supplement their meagre incomes. If the profound love for soccer he expresses in his piece is genuine, what Dr Ho needs to do, at the very least, is provide more quality training grounds for the soccer clubs and offer greater incentives to players in the form of improved benefits and prospects.

It may be impossible to attain the heights Hong Kong soccer reached in the 1950s, but at least local fans could have a chance to scream themselves hoarse for a home team giving a decent performance in the World Cup qualifiers.

JOHN CHEUNG, Shamshuipo

In 'A city's love affair with football', Patrick Ho Chi-ping has penned a puff piece for the Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) while giving the government a pat on the back for providing facilities 'for both players and spectators'. His declaration that 'for more than a century, [soccer] has remained Hong Kong's major sporting preoccupation' bears some examination. Any sport that can only muster attendances in the hundreds for league matches cannot, in a city of 6.9 million people, be termed major. As a Scot, I also cannot, without objective evidence, accept his word that 'the game was invented in China'.

Dr Ho noted that the South China Football Club was formed in 1907 and the HKFA in 1914. Is it parochialism, bias or something else that prevented him from recording that the oldest established soccer club (1886) and a founder member of the HKFA is the Hong Kong Football Club, once, but no longer, a gweilo stronghold? Shame on you, sir.


I am not sure why the South China Morning Post gives a platform for Home Affairs Secretary Patrick Ho Chi-ping to write opinion articles like 'A city's love affair with football'. He is a big, bumbling man who writes big, bumbling pieces (on culture and sport, usually with some sort of historical twist). His punchlines, which generally start raising their heads two or three paragraphs from fourth base, are always the same: the government is doing a great job and, by inference, so am I. He is such a blatant self-publicist that, if we lived in a democracy, he'd probably end his essays: 'Oh, and don't forget to vote for Patrick.'

I suggest he be exiled for the next few years to Cheung Chau, where he can oversee the annual bun festival and take day trippers on guided tours of the pirate cave. With the 2009 East Asian Games coming up and the fate and form of the West Kowloon cultural district still to be decided, it is probably the safest place for all concerned.