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Philippines files racist complaint with FIFA

Philippine Football Federation alleges Hong Kong fans racially and physically abused players and supporters in friendly.

Last Modified: 14 Jun 2013 20:55
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Fulham star Neil Etheridge was playing for the Philippines during the alleged racially charged match [EPA]

The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) has complained to FIFA that Filipino supporters and players were subject to racist abuse during last week's friendly in Hong Kong.

PFF General Secretary Ed Gastanes said in a written statement on Thursday that officials asked FIFA to investigate the allegations and had filed a complaint on Tuesday after reports of physical and racist abuse against Philippine players and supporters.

Ged Grebby, chief executive of Britain's anti-racism educational charity Show Racism The Red Card, backed a FIFA investigation into the incident on Friday.

He told Al Jazeera that FIFA should act under its tough new anti-racism rules if it upheld the complaints.

The complaint contains statements from Filipino fans who said they were called "slaves'', in reference to the thousands of domestic helpers who work in the former British colony.

"In that context it sounds like racist abuse," Grebby said.

The Philippines also complained that Hong Kong fans threw bottles at them and booed the Philippine national anthem before the game, which the Philippines won 1-0 after their star Fulham goalkeeper Neil Etheridge pulled off some spectacular saves.

'Players targeted'

The Hong Kong Football Association condemned inappropriate behaviour last week and said it was investigating the incidents. Spokesman Benny Chan said that the HKFA has a zero-tolerance approach to racism.

A representative of the Asian Football Confederation in Kuala Lumpur said that it had not received any formal complaint and would only be able to investigate or take action if asked to do so by the Philippines or FIFA.

Cedelf Tupas, a reporter for the Philippine Daily Inquirer who covered the June 4 match, said last week that Hong Kong fans jeered and taunted the Filipinos, including calling their country a "slave nation".

Tupas said that the hostility intensified after the Philippines scored in the second half, when spectators threw bottles and juice cartons at the Filipino fans and later the players. He said others made obscene gestures.

The Filipino fans, who were mostly women and children, made up about 10 percent of the crowd of 4,500.

Some in the southern Chinese city hold a grudge against the Philippines after a Manila hostage-taking incident in 2010, in which eight Hong Kong tourists were killed in a bungled police rescue. The Hong Kong government has maintained a travel warning for the Philippines since the incident.

More than 100,000 Filipinos work as domestic helpers in Hong Kong, toiling long hours taking care of children and doing chores for middle-class families for low pay.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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