It's no secret that mainland China is not the most popular place for a vast majority of Hong Kongers. The residents of Hong Kong, a former British colony that is now a special administrative region of China, have chafed at Beijing's rule and grumble about the influx of mainlanders into their already teeming city.
Those negative feelings were aired earlier this year on the soccer pitch. As WorldViews noted this summer, Hong Kong fans booed the anthem played before World Cup qualifying matches against Bhutan and the Maldives, and then broke out into chants of "We are Hong Kong." Though Hong Kong is allowed its own team by FIFA, the sport's global governing body, its anthem remains China's "March of the Volunteers."
This was followed by a similar display last month in a match against Qatar. That prompted FIFA to punish Hong Kong's soccer authorities with a $5,160 fine and to issue warnings that "any further infringements will lead to more severe sanctions."
"We will promote the message of 'not booing' on all our media channels," said Brian Leung, the somewhat-contrite chairman of the Hong Kong Football Association.
Tensions have flared since last year's prolonged anti-Beijing protests, in which tens of thousands of Hong Kongers rallied in the streets and carried out a weeks-long occupation of some of its busiest thoroughfares.
Across the heavily trafficked border with China, mainland netizens took to social media to deride Hong Kongers for their supposed lack of loyalty, according to Shanghaiist:
One Weibo user helpfully suggested genocide by saying “they deserve to die, that would be light punishment.”
Whilst other users such as 宗-璇 merely repeated the age old Mainland comparison between Hongkongers and dogs.
In early September, China and Hong Kong played a 0-0 "friendly" match that was anything but amicable. Hong Kong's goalkeeper, Yapp Hung-fai, whose heroics kept the game scoreless, accused the Chinese captain, Zheng Zhi, of spitting in his face and calling the Hong Kong keeper a "dog." Zheng denied the allegation, but it's clear that there's no love lost between the two athletes — and, indeed, their respective fan bases.