Have racist fans scored own-goal for Hong Kong football?

Fifa to probe reports of slurs against Filipino fans and players as local soccer body talks tough

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 June, 2013, 9:02am

The Hong Kong Football Association could face sanctions after the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) asked Fifa to investigate allegations its supporters were subject to racist abuse during last Tuesday's soccer friendly in the city.

PFF general secretary Edwin Gastanes made the decision to call for the investigation after evaluating a "comprehensive report" he received last Friday from the head of the Philippine delegation to the game.

Up until now, Fifa - world football's governing body - has said it had not been given any official report on the match, nor received any complaints. It will now investigate the allegations and see whether any action should be taken.

The complaint was filed on Tuesday after reports of "physical and racist abuse against Philippine players and supporters", Gastanes said in a statement.

The complaint also contains statements from Filipino fans who said they were called "slaves" during the international friendly at Mong Kok Stadium, which the Philippines won 1-0.

Hong Kong fans are also accused of throwing bottles at them and booing the Philippine national anthem.

The incident comes at a time when Fifa is intensifying its efforts to stamp out racial abuse at matches and has introduced severe penalties for soccer associations not toeing the line.

The Hong Kong Football Association is to furnish a report to Fifa today regarding the allegations. The association had not been informed of the PFF's request to Fifa, it said.

"We haven't received anything from the PFF," said Mark Sutcliffe, the association's chief executive, who returned from holidaying in Scotland early this week.

"Similarly, Fifa has not informed us about any official complaint. But we are investigating the matter and will be sending a report to Fifa tomorrow."

Sutcliffe said last week that the association would not tolerate any instance of racism by players, coaches, administrators or spectators as it agrees with Fifa that racism and discrimination should be dealt with severely.

Hong Kong soccer supporters' club The Power of Hong Kong denied the Filipino fans' claims but blamed the association for failing to take proper security measures. Fans were allowed to sit wherever they wanted instead of being segregated.

Last week, outraged Filipino soccer fans describing racial abuse from Hong Kong supporters were backed by the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Philippines consulate.

The commission called the incident "a form of racial discrimination and vilification".

A spokesman for the Philippine consulate said they were "concerned about unfortunate incidents before, during and after the match".