'Unruly fans' to blame for Fifa fine in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Football Association considers appealing over punishment by governing body after Filipinos suffered racial abuse during friendly soccer match in the city

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 January, 2014, 10:26pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 January, 2014, 12:54am

The Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) is considering an appeal after being fined 30,000 Swiss francs (HK$256,000) following a report of racial abuse at an international friendly match six months ago.

HKFA chief executive Mark Sutcliffe was upset with Fifa's decision.

"We are disappointed with this initial decision and reserve the right to lodge a formal appeal once we have been given more information on the grounds for this reason," Sutcliffe said.

He added that: "We understand why Fifa is taking a firm line on this issue and we support any action designed to eradicate discrimination.

It is disappointing that the behaviour of a few unruly individuals has resulted in the HKFA being fined
Mark Sutcliffe

"However, it is disappointing that the behaviour of a few unruly individuals has resulted in the HKFA being fined. It would be much better if this money was spent on football development in Hong Kong rather than going into the coffers of Fifa."

On June 4, Filipino fans, including women and their children, were reportedly abused by home supporters after the Philippines beat Hong Kong 1-0 in the exhibition match at Mong Kok Stadium.

The HKFA sent an incident report to Fifa after complaints from the Philippines Football Association and the Philippines consulate in Hong Kong.

A Fifa disciplinary committee met in November and decided the HKFA had breached Articles 58, 65 (b and e) and 67 (1 and 3) of the disciplinary code. Under the code, the home organisers are responsible for the behaviour of their fans. The HKFA was also ordered to pay a further 3,000 Swiss francs to cover the cost of the proceedings.

On Friday, the HKFA said: "At the present time, only the terms of the decision have been communicated to the HKFA and not the grounds for the decision. The HKFA has written to Fifa requesting the grounds for the decision and is reserving its position in relation to appealing the decision."

Sutcliffe insisted the incident was minor and there was also significant provocation from the Philippine players. But he agreed racial discrimination should not be tolerated.

"We do not condone any acts of violence or racial discrimination and, as I stated publicly before, we will implement stadium bans on any individual convicted of an offence of this nature," he said. More than 4,500 fans attended the match, which was part of Hong Kong's preparation for their 2015 Asian Cup qualifiers.

However, organisers did not separate the fans. Sutcliffe added: "The most important thing is that we have learnt from this match."