An investigation of the identity of naturalised players in the Hong Kong representative football team from the perspective of different Hong Kong football stakeholders

  • Sheung Ching YUNG

Student thesis: MPhil Thesis (Lingnan)


The study of identity is a controversial topic in football (soccer) and is of growing interest in social science research. Over the past few years, increasing numbers of naturalised players from Africa, Europe, South America and Mainland China are selected on the Hong Kong representative football team. This has created much heated debate among the Hong Kong public and fans on the topic of naturalised players. This thesis first outlines conceptual aspects of identity and argues with special reference to the literature on sporting sociology and politics. If then asks research questions on “why do public suddenly pay much attention to the naturalised players in the Hong Kong representative football team”, “do public open to the inclusion of naturalised players in the Hong Kong representative football team”, “will public consider naturalised players as Hong Kongers” and “what is the characteristics of Hong Kong identity”. Research methods include a short quantitative questionnaire and a face-to-face interview with knowledgeable respondents such as fans, selected players, coaches, managers, and sports journalists. Through the questionnaire and interview, this thesis figures out that respondents are sensitive to the numbers of naturalised players on the team. Notably, they are largely open to the inclusion of naturalised players. The performance of naturalised players is the only concern rather than other noncompetitive reasons such as players’ ethnic backgrounds. Nevertheless, an open attitude to the inclusion of naturalised players does not mean that fans are ready to consider them as being “Hong Kongers”. There are several factors that impacted the ways respondents evaluate the ‘Hong Kong identity’ of naturalised players, including contributing Hong Kong, understanding Hong Kong culture, putting down roots in Hong Kong, being born or raised in Hong Kong, motivation for coming to Hong Kong, the capability to speak Cantonese (the local dialect) or English, understanding the laws and social issues of Hong Kong and having Hong Kong citizenship. Perhaps surprisingly, race is not a concern for most respondents. They further suggested that “contributing to Hong Kong”, “having Hong Kong citizenship” and “sincerely wanting to be a Hong Konger” are foundations of Hong Kong identity. These findings contribute to the academic literature on the topic of Hong Kong football and Hong Kong identity.
Date of Award26 Sept 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Lingnan University
SupervisorDavid Rosser PHILLIPS (Supervisor) & Hau Nung Annie CHAN (Co-supervisor)

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