Now the authorities are planning tougher measures. Last month, China’s legislature approved a law prohibiting disrespect of the anthem, barring the song’s use in commercials or parodies, and outlining punishments for people who do not “stand with respect” and “maintain a dignified bearing” when it is played.
Weekslong street protests in Hong Kong known as the Umbrella Movement ended three years ago without the government ceding any ground on expanding residents’ say in local elections.
But that spirit of protest has been revived in the stadium jeers, which appear to have started two years ago. Hong Kong played China in World Cup qualifiers twice in 2015, and those matches that took on an added political dimension coming a year after the street protests.
With a population of seven million, Hong Kong is a minnow in the ocean of international soccer. But the city has a long history with the sport and, with the help of some foreign-born players, often punches above its weight.
China has a huge population to draw from and its teams have been successful in several sports. But its men’s soccer teams have routinely struggled in international competition.