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A Bahraini football player was caught pulling off the racist “slant-eye” gesture after a World Cup qualifier match against Hong Kong at the city’s So Kon Po stadium on Thursday night.
The game, a joint-qualifier for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup, resulted in a 0-0 draw as Hong Kong’s defense successfully saved the opposition’s shot in the 64th minute.
After a tense week in, something to cheer for fans at Hong Kong Stadium. Hugely credible World Cup qualifying draw with Bahrain, marred slightly by an apparent racist gesture by Bahrain player at the end of the match #WCQ #HongKongProstests pic.twitter.com/u24ToT3iF7
— Paul Ryding (@pjrydo) November 14, 2019
In a post-match scrap, Bahraini player Sayed Baqer was filmed pulling the gesture at the jeering home crowd before heading toward the changing rooms.
The 25-year-old defender, who also plays for Kuwait’s Al Nasr Sporting Club, was reportedly upset over Hong Kong’s “time-wasting tactics,” which supposedly held his team off.
Bahrain coach Helio Sousa suggested that Hong Kong’s lengthy injury treatments and lack of sufficient injury time, which is added to the end of each half of play, contributed to his players’ anger after the game. However, he claimed to not witness Baqer’s gesture.
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” Sousa told the South China Morning Post. “We were very pleased with the crowd — they created an amazing environment for the game, always supporting and motivating the home team.”
The former Portuguese footballer pointed out that Hong Kong players needed assistance for “five or six times,” while none of his players “went to the floor.”
“Some situations after the game, I don’t know what happened at that moment, but this is competition,” Sousa told SCMP. “We [showed] respect during all 95 minutes. We gave it all and wanted to play football.”
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. قال المدرب البرتغالي لمنتخبنا الوطني هيليو سوزا، إن تحضيرات المنتخب للمباراة أمام هونغ سارت على النحو المعتاد خلال الفترة الماضية. وذكر سوزا في المؤتمر الصحافي الذي يسبق المباراة إن المباراة مهمة للغاية، مشيرا إلى أن الطموح هو تحقيق الفوز وكسب النقاط الثلاث. وأشار إلى أن الجهاز الفني للمنتخب درس منتخب هونغ كونغ، مبينا تميزه في الجانب الدفاعي والارتداد الهجومي، مؤكدا أن طريقته مختلفة عن المنتخبات الأخرى في المجموعة، خاصة مع تميزه في الكرات الثابتة أيضا. بدوره، قال لاعب منتخبنا الوطني عبدالوهاب المالود إن المباراة مهمة بلا شك، مشيرا إلى أن اللاعبين سيقدمون كل ما لديهم وتطبيق تعليمات المدرب من أجل الظفر بنتيجة الفوز. وأكد أن جميع اللاعبين جاهزون لخوض المباراة غدا، مشيرا إلى أن التركيز سيكون بشكل كامل على لقاء هونغ كونغ دون التفكير في لقاء العراق بالجولة المقبلة. . #معاً_من_أجل_البحرين #together4bahrain
On the other hand, Hong Kong also made headlines after its fans drowned out the Chinese national anthem with boos on Thursday night.
Last month, FIFA fined the Hong Kong Football Federation 15,000 Swiss francs ($15,180) for the same offense ahead of a qualifier against Iran in September, warning fans against “disturbance during national anthems” and “use of objects to transmit a message that is not appropriate for a sports events,” according to the Hong Kong Free Press.
— Paul Ryding (@pjrydo) November 14, 2019
On Friday, Bahrain was also fined with 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,240) after its fans disrespected the Iranian national anthem ahead of a qualifier last month, the Tehran Times reported.
Aside from the disrespect to Iran’s national anthem, the fine covers an overcrowded stadium and “misconduct of players and officials” in the form of a delayed kick-off, according to Mehr News Agency.
Forty Asian teams were drawn into eight groups of five teams for the second round of World Cup qualifiers, which will run until June 2020. Hong Kong and Bahrain are in Group C, alongside Iran, Iraq and Cambodia.
The eight group winners and four best runners-up will then qualify for the AFC Asian Cup 2023 in China, according to China Daily. They will also make the final round of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, which will kick off in September 2020.
Hong Kong faces Cambodia as Bahrain takes on Iraq on Tuesday.