Hong Kong Withdraws from eAsian Cup in Qatar Over Name Display Issue


  • Hong Kong’s football team left the eAsian Cup because of a name display problem.
  • According to the rules, the AFC gave 3-0 wins to Hong Kong’s opponents.
  • The issue shows tensions between Hong Kong’s identity and Beijing’s expectations in sports.

Hong Kong’s participation in the eAsian Cup, an esports tournament held alongside the Asian Cup in Qatar, came to an unexpected end as the city’s football team withdrew due to a dispute over the display of their official name. 

The team, known as “Hong Kong, China” in official sports associations, encountered technical difficulties with the eFootball 2024 gaming application used for the event, which failed to display their team name correctly. 

Despite days of negotiations with the organizers, no satisfactory solution was found, leading to the withdrawal of the Hong Kong team.

Sensitive identity issue

Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of China, has a unique status in international sports competitions, competing separately from the mainland, including at the Olympics. However, how the city is identified at international events has remained a sensitive issue. 

According to the guidelines set forth by Chinese authorities, Hong Kong’s sports associations must include “China” in their official names, reflecting the territory’s status as part of the People’s Republic of China.

Hong Kong technical challenge and withdrawal

The Hong Kong Football Association issued a statement explaining the circumstances leading to their withdrawal from the eAsian Cup. The statement cited technical issues with the eFootball 2024 gaming application, which failed to display their official team name correctly as “Hong Kong, China.” 

Despite efforts to resolve the issue through negotiations with the organizers, no satisfactory solution was reached. As a result, the Hong Kong team decided to withdraw from the tournament, considering the guidelines and advice provided by Hong Kong’s Olympic committee.

AFC’s response

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) promptly responded to the Hong Kong team’s decision to withdraw from the eAsian Cup. In an official statement, the AFC acknowledged the withdrawal, citing “unavoidable circumstances” as the reason. 

In accordance with the terms and conditions of the AFC eAsian Cup 2023, the statement also announced that all matches involving the Hong Kong team would be awarded 3-0 in favor of their opponents. This decision was made due to Hong Kong’s withdrawal from the competition.

The controversy over Hong Kong’s official name in international sports competitions highlights the delicate balance between the city’s local pride and its relationship with mainland China. 

Hong Kong has long taken pride in its ability to compete separately in sports, reflecting its unique status and sporting achievements. However, this autonomy has not been without challenges, especially in evolving relations with Beijing.

Beijing’s stance

Beijing-approved authorities in Hong Kong have increasingly viewed the city’s autonomy with suspicion, particularly in the aftermath of the pro-democracy protests that rocked Hong Kong in 2019. 

These tensions are not limited to politics, as they have surfaced regularly at sports events. Local football fans in Hong Kong have been known to anger Beijing by booing the Chinese national anthem during matches. In response to these actions, Hong Kong authorities enacted legislation to ban any insults to China’s national anthem.

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Benson Mawira

Benson is a blockchain reporter who has delved into industry news, on-chain analysis, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), Artificial Intelligence (AI), etc.His area of expertise is the cryptocurrency markets, fundamental and technical analysis.With his insightful coverage of everything in Financial Technologies, Benson has garnered a global readership.

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