Booing national anthem isn’t a criminal offence – leader comment

Most would agree that booing your opponents’ national anthem at a sporting event is, well, not a very sporting way to behave.

A pro-democracy activist holds a placard depicting part of the musical score of the Chinese national anthem during a protest outside the Legislative Council in Hong Kong (Picture: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty)
A pro-democracy activist holds a placard depicting part of the musical score of the Chinese national anthem during a protest outside the Legislative Council in Hong Kong (Picture: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty)

Such was the chorus of boos during God Save the Queen when Scotland played England at Hampden in 2017 that Fifa decided to fine the Scottish Football Association £4,000.

However, this sanction pales into insignificance when compared to a planned law in Hong Kong. This would make public and intentional insults to the Chinese national anthem punishable by up to three years in prison.

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The law is being introduced after football fans heckled the anthem as a form of protest against the suppression of the pro-democracy movement in the semi-autonomous part of China.

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It may not be sporting, it may even be offensive, but be glad you live in a free, democratic country, where ‘disrespecting’ a song will never land you in prison.