Politics, Identity and Football during the Cold War: When Hong Kong Played the Republic of China in 1959

By Chun Wing Lee.

Published by The Sport Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

When the Republic of China (ROC) football team defeated the Hong Kong football team to claim a berth in the 2nd Asian Cup finals in 1959, 21 of the 22 players on the pitch were Hong Kong Chinese. This interesting scenario developed because, after retreating to the island of Taiwan following its defeat in the Chinese Civil War, the ROC had continued its previous practice of calling up Hong Kong Chinese football players. This study explores the political implications of this ROC football team with respect to Hong Kong, where political forces supporting the two Chinese regimes in Beijing and Taipei competed relatively freely against each other during the height of the Cold War. It shows that newspapers with different political allegiances had very different understandings as to whether the ROC had indeed been accepted by the international community, whether overseas Chinese supported the ROC, and how the victory of the ROC team was to be interpreted. This paper enriches our understanding of the relationship between sport and politics in a divided China, while also contributing to the literature on how states use sport to enhance their own image.Moreover, this study also
provides insights into the development of local identity and
national identity in Hong Kong in the 1950s.

Keywords: Nationalism, Hong Kong, Taiwan, National Identity, Cold War, Local Identity, China

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.59-70. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 612.434KB).

Dr. Chun Wing Lee

Teaching Fellow, Department of Social Sciences, Hong Kong Community College, Hong Kong

LEE Chun Wing is currently a lecturer in the Division of Communication and Social Sciences at Hong Kong Community College. He obtained his PhD in Sociology at the University of Manchester in 2009. His research interests include social stratification, social movements, democratizations, nationalism and political/sociological aspects of sports.