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Crisis in Myanmar Football Amidst Pullouts and Suspension Due to Political Unrest



When making international headlines in football, second-division games in Malaysia don’t really attract the media’s attention. But that all changed when under-23 winger Hein Htet Aung gave a three-fingered salute after scoring for Selangor II. The Hunger Games film franchise popularised this salute. It’s a gesture of resistance adopted by pro-democracy protesters in Hongkong and Thailand in 2014. Myanmar also adopted this gesture after the military took back power in a coup last February. As with many celebrities, several players in Myanmar football, like Hein, are taking their stand against the military.

National Football Team Loses to Japan, 10-0

The Myanmar national football team upsettingly lost to Japan 10-0 in the 2022 World Cup qualifier. This comes as no surprise since Myanmar was missing several regulars who boycotted the qualifiers as a form of protest at the coup. Kyaw Zin Htet, the goalkeeper, chose not to be part of the trip and encouraged the other players who travelled to raise the three-finger salute. However, only Hein was able to do so.

There weren’t many chances for the Myanmar football team to follow in Hein’s footsteps since Japan was giving them a difficult time. Yuya Osaka scored five goals, which gave Japan a top spot in Group F with two games to spare. This was Myanmar’s biggest defeat. Moreover, even though the players could not show their stand, protests could be seen and heard outside the stadium. This came from a dozen Burmese residents in Tokyo.  

A Rising Unrest in Myanmar Football

One of many mainstays who refused the call from the head coach, Antoine Hey, was Kyaw. During a protest with other football players, he made it clear in Yangon that he was not going to represent the nation under Gen Min Aung Hlaing’s regime.

According to Kyaw, “If the entire group of players had opted out, it would have had an impact. Younger players are also being threatened on their future if they choose not to play the game, so they might be worried about it.” Because of this, the Myanmar Football Federation stated on its website that players who refused could be suspended.

Many prominent figures are under a lot of pressure. Last April, the junta created a campaign against celebrity protest supporters by publishing a list of their names in state media. They warned broadcasters and agencies not to work with the listed celebrities. Moreover, Chit Bo Bo Nyein was shot and killed last March 27. He was the captain of the under-21 team of Hantharwady United. This was the day when reports showed that 150 people died in the protests.

The 2022 World Cup might be out of the question for Myanmar. However, you can still support and bet on other teams on football betting sites in the UK. If you are still a new football punter and are interested in how to bet on football games, you should open a betting account with our partner at VOdds. They provide some of the best promos and offers for smart punters. So, register with them today!