Seizing every opportunity to air their dissent for the world to see, demonstrators turned a football stadium into a protest zone on Tuesday night at the first home game of Hong Kong’s World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign.
An hour before the 8pm (1200GMT) kick-off against Asia’s top side Iran, spectators made their uphill journey to the stadium chanting “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong”.
Many of them traded their signature black T-shirts, a protest uniform of sorts, for red jerseys, belting out “Glory be to thee, Hong Kong“, a stirring song crowd-composed online that, over the past two weeks, has emerged as a battle hymn and protest anthem.
When China’s national anthem was played inside the stadium, the protesters heckled and turned their back towards the ground.
More people than usual have turned out for this weekday game and come together for camaraderie.”
The mass protests, now entering their fourth month, were sparked by a now-scrapped extradition bill, which opponents argued would have allowed Beijing to erode Hong Kong’s separate justice system after its return from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
However, the demonstrations have since morphed into a broader pro-democracy movement.
Moreover, protesters are widening their demands to include full democracy, an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality, a blanket amnesty for all those charged with offences stemming from their involvement in demonstrations, and a refutation of the police claim that protesters were guilty of rioting – an offence that carries a heavy prison sentence.
At half-time in the qualifier, spectators waved their phones and shouted protest slogans in unison, holding out five fingers to represent their demands for the government.
The protesters had earlier appealed to the G20 for support during its summit in June and marched to the US consulate to push for intervention last weekend.