Perhaps the happiest fans in the world this weekend were in Hong Kong. The special administrative region of China, as I guess we should formally call it, has been competing in international football for sixty years, and yesterday won its first ever title, a gold medal in the East Asian Games football tournament.
A capacity crowd of over 40,000 watched the hosts, consisting largely of amateurs from the Hong Kong league, beat Japan 4-2 on penalty kicks, after a 1-1 draw.
This was no pansy field: Hong Kong defeated World Cup qualifiers North Korea in the semi-final (also on penalty kicks), and surprisingly crushed South Korea 4-1 in the group stage. Hong Kong’s East Asian rivals did not field their strongest teams, but that will do little to dampen the celebrations and a major spur to the sport’s growth in Hong Kong.