Filipinos provoked local soccer fans, says supporters' club
Abuse at international friendly 'was to be expected' in such a volatile situation
A Hong Kong soccer supporters' club has hit back at Filipino fans who were subjected to verbal and physical abuse by people in a home crowd during an international friendly on Tuesday.
The Power of Hong Kong - formed in 2005 and now with more than 1,000 followers on its Facebook page - said any game against the Philippines would be very sensitive since a sacked policeman hijacked a tour bus in Manila in 2010 and shot dead seven Hong Kong tourists and their guide.
"It is unavoidable that emotions will run high in a match like this with this as the background," the statement said.
The club claims Philippine players and supporters constantly provoked local fans.
"When the match was ongoing, many Philippine supporters, [wearing] the Philippine national team jersey and scarfs came towards the Hong Kong supporters section to taunt them with jeers and hand gestures, which served only to provoke the situation further," the statement read.
At the end of the match, several Philippine players also made provocative hand gestures towards the Hong Kong fans, it said.
The supporters' club laid much of the blame on the Hong Kong Football Association and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.
It said they had failed to take proper security measures and not sett up a designated zone for Philippine supporters. Fans were allowed to sit wherever they wanted to.
"Supporters were not being segregated at all, and it was no wonder that skirmishes eventually did break out, especially when there were so much provocation going on," the supporters' club said.
Outraged Filipino fans said they were subjected to racial abuse. A section of Hong Kong supporters yelled insults at them, including that they were "all just slaves". They threw bottles at women and children and booed the country's national anthem before the start of the match.
The supporters' club said it did not condone jeering while the national anthem was being played, nor the throwing of missiles onto the pitch.