Qualifying matches for the 2022 FIFA World Cup saw Hong Kong face off against Iran. The match started off on a politically charged note as the spectators booed the Chinese national anthem before the game started. Crowds sang "Glory be to thee, Hong Kong" which has become the unofficial anthem of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests.

September 10 was Hong Kong's first FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifier match. Even with the ongoing protests, football fans enthusiastically turned up to support their team in the match against Iran. The fans did not miss the opportunity to show their dissent against China.

As per the norm, the national anthem of the two teams was played before the match commenced. Taipei (Chinese Taipei), Hong Kong, and China have separate football teams competing to qualify for the World Cup. However, the "One China" policy means that all the three teams will have the Chinese national anthem played before their matches.

Hong Kong Protest
Some of the pro-democracy Hong Kong activists wore masks depicting various world leaders during the peaceful march to the US consulate, in a bid to increase pressure on China. Afp / Vivek Prakash

The on-going pro-democracy protests over the withdrawn Extradition Bill has Hong Kong protesters standing up against the Chinese government. The spectators showed that they disapproved of Chinese domination over Hong Kong by booing the national anthem of China as it played before the match. The spectators turned their backs to the pitch as a sign of protest while the anthem played.

An unofficial anthem has emerged in Hong Kong which the spectators sang during and after the match. "Glory to Hong Kong" or "Glory be to thee, Hong Kong," is an anthem which was recently created online. Demonstrators in the past couple of weeks have resorted to singing it as a rally song during their marches.

According to Al Jazeera, protesters have turned football matches into opportunities to demonstrate their dissent since the Umbrella Movement back in 2015. The 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers between Hong Kong and China were also politically charged. Hong Kong supporters had booed the Chinese national anthem back then as well.

Even though the team lost by two goals to Iran, the spectators did not return home disappointed. The Hong Kong protesters ensured that their protest got more international attention.

After the match, the demonstrators took over a shopping mall where they continued to sing their unofficial anthem.