Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Football News: HKFA Wants World Cup Qualifying Match Against Maldives to be Moved to Mongkok Stadium Due to Security Issues

Hong Kong football fans

(Photo : Reuters) Hong Kong football fans lift up their banners during an AFC World Cup qualifying match.

The Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) has raised security concerns with regards to the national team's scheduled World Cup qualifying match versus Maldives on Thursday at the National Football Stadium in Malé as there is a current civil unrest in the said area.

The Standard reported that HKFA has sought immediate approval from FIFA to transfer the venue to its home field of Mong Kok Stadium to ensure the safety of both national teams' players.

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"I hope the game can be held in Hong Kong... and I am certainly against the Hong Kong team going to the Maldives," HKFA chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak told reporters during an interview. "There is no way we should go to Maldives under the current situation. The players' safety always comes first and I would propose to move the match to Hong Kong."

Maldives president Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency in the country last week because of the growing number of anti-government protesters gathered in the streets.

Leung noted that a previous Maldives versus China match was moved from the former's National Football Stadium to Shenyang because of the damage caused by the crowd at Malé's Independence Day celebration, which means that FIFA could allow it to happen again given the circumstances.

Bassam Adeel Jaleel, general secretary of the Football Association of Maldives, acknowledged that they are open to the idea of changing venues to ensure security even if it would be a disadvantage to their national team.

However, the latest news from Haveeru said that the match will still take place in Malé this Thursday as the Hong Kong national team has been "reassured" by both the Maldives government and FIFA that the venue would be safe.

HKFA CEO Mark Sutcliffe said that the island nation's "security forces had guaranteed complete safety for the impending match." This allegedly comforted the Hong Kong national team and made both coaches and players agree to hold the match there. 

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