The National Sport of Hong Kong is Soccer.
Soccer in Hong Kong is a celebrated passion, connecting diverse communities and fostering camaraderie.
To learn more about sports culture in Hong Kong, read our article about the most popular sports in Hong Kong.
Table of Contents
#1 History of Soccer
- 1904: The Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) was established, making it one of the oldest football organizations in Asia.
- 1913: The Hong Kong First Division League, the oldest football league in Asia, was founded.
- 1976: Hong Kong wins its first and only AFC Asian Cup title.
- 1985: Seiko Sports Association won the AFC Club Championship, becoming the first and only Hong Kong team to achieve this honor.
- 2009: The Hong Kong Premier League was introduced to replace the First Division League as the top-flight football league in the city.
#2 Culture and Traditions
Soccer holds a special place in the hearts of Hong Kong’s residents. The sport transcends age, culture, and ethnicity, bridging gaps and providing a common platform for people to connect and celebrate. Soccer is played in schools, parks, and clubs, making it an integral part of Hong Kong’s cultural fabric.
Several significant events and tournaments are associated with soccer in Hong Kong. The most prominent among them is the Hong Kong Soccer Sevens, an annual international tournament that brings together top clubs, universities, and academies from around the world. This event showcases Hong Kong’s hospitality and serves as a celebration of soccer in the city.
Another important tradition is the Lunar New Year Cup, held annually during the Lunar New Year holidays. This prestigious tournament dates back to 1908 and has featured numerous top international teams and players, symbolizing the longstanding soccer culture in Hong Kong.
#3 How it Works: Rules, Gameplay and Equipment
📕 Rules & Gameplay
- Match Duration: A standard match consists of two halves, each lasting 45 minutes, with a 15-minute break in between.
- Objective: Each team tries to score by getting the ball into the opposing team’s goal.
- Players: Each team has 11 players, including one goalkeeper.
- Offside: A player is offside if they are nearer to the opponent’s goal than both the ball and the second last opponent when the ball is played to them.
- Fouls: Direct and indirect free-kicks and penalty kicks are awarded for infringements of the rules.
⚙️ Equipment & Gear
- Ball: Round and made of leather or another suitable material.
- Goalposts: Located at each end of the field, they are 7.32 meters wide and 2.44 meters tall.
- Kits: Teams wear distinguishing kits, with goalkeepers wearing different colors to stand out.
- Shin Guards: Protection for players from potential tackles or hits.
- Boots: Specialized shoes designed for the sport’s requirements.
#4 Modern Development of Soccer
In recent times, Hong Kong soccer has undergone a process of professionalization and revitalization. The formation of the Hong Kong Premier League in 2009 was a crucial step towards developing a competitive domestic football environment, attracting both local talent and foreign players to improve the standards of the league.
Technological advancements have also had an impact on the modern development of soccer in Hong Kong. The use of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) systems, better broadcasting services, and advanced data analysis techniques have contributed to an enhanced match experience for both players and fans.
Furthermore, the rise of the Hong Kong women’s soccer has garnered considerable attention in recent years. The Hong Kong Women’s League, established in 1986, has grown in both size and competitiveness, helping to promote gender equality and inclusivity within the sport.
#5 Soccer and the Olympics
Soccer has had a long-standing association with the Olympic Games. First introduced in 1900 for men’s competition and 1996 for women’s, it has remained a prominent event within the Olympics. However, Hong Kong has had limited participation in Olympic soccer, representing one of the few aspects where the sport’s influence in the city has not been as significant.
Despite Hong Kong’s minimal involvement in Olympic soccer, the games have had a profound impact on the sport’s global recognition. Olympic soccer has often served as a platform for showcasing young talent and has played a crucial role in spreading the sport to new and emerging markets, helping fuel Hong Kong’s passion for the sport.
#6 Famous Athletes and Achievements
- Chan Siu Ki: Known as “Hong Kong’s Beckham,” Chan has represented Hong Kong in international competitions and won several league titles with South China AA and Kitchee SC, becoming one of the most successful local players.
- Leslie Santos: A Hong Kong-football legend, Santos was born in Brazil and represented Hong Kong internationally. He excelled at both defense and midfield positions and played a pivotal role in Hong Kong’s 1989 World Cup qualification campaign.
- Dejan Antonić: This former Yugoslavian footballer became a Hong Kong citizen and played for various clubs such as Eastern AA and South China AA. Antonić was a key player in Hong Kong’s soccer scene during the 1990s and ranked among the greatest foreign players to have graced the city’s leagues.
- Wu Kwok Hung: A legendary figure in Hong Kong soccer, Wu was one of the first local players to represent the city overseas. He contributed significantly to the development of the sport in Hong Kong and even served as a coach on multiple occasions.
#7 Where to watch Soccer
- Television and streaming: Cable TV, Now TV, and i-Cable Sports offer live broadcast options for domestic and international soccer matches, while streaming platforms such as ESPN+ or Hong Kong Sports Network cater to varying soccer preferences.
- Live in Hong Kong: Experience the electric atmosphere of soccer matches at local stadiums such as Hong Kong Stadium, Mong Kok Stadium, and Siu Sai Wan Sports Ground – iconic venues that host both domestic and international fixtures.