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Three persons arrested by Police for not standing during recitation of National Anthem

Three persons arrested by Police for not standing during recitation of National Anthem

Police reported on Friday that three individuals were arrested for turning their backs and remaining seated during the playing of China’s national anthem before Hong Kong’s home World Cup qualifier against Iran.

Historically, football fans in Hong Kong would boo the national anthem to express political discontent. However, the government banned this practice in 2020 amid a broader crackdown following massive democracy protests in the city.

On Thursday, at Hong Kong Stadium, police stated that two men and a woman were arrested for “turning their backs toward the pitch and not standing during the national anthem.”

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“Police emphasized that publicly and intentionally insulting the national anthem in any manner constitutes a crime,” according to a police statement.

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The arrested individuals, aged between 18 and 31, face up to three years in prison and a fine of HK$50,000 ($6,400) if convicted.

Hong Kong, already eliminated from advancing in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, lost the game to Iran 4-2.

Despite being a special administrative region of China, Hong Kong competes under its own name in many international sports, including football.

During the politically charged 2010s, the Hong Kong football team symbolized civic pride and occasionally anti-government sentiment.

At that time, the Chinese national anthem was often drowned out by boos before Hong Kong matches, angering officials both locally and on the mainland.

Following the imposition of a national security law by Beijing in 2020, Hong Kong passed a local law criminalizing insults toward the anthem.

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