Taiwan accused China of “bullying” on Tuesday after the island’s name was misspelled as “Chinese Taipei” on a FIFA World Cup fan identity card due to multiple changes made by Qatari organizers.
The “Hayya” fan ID card system serves as both a visa to come into the country and a stadium pass.
Initially, neither Taiwan nor Chinese Taipei – the name used during the island in international sporting events – were listed as options on the Hayya online portal, and officials warned that Taiwanese fans could be mislabeled as Chinese.
Following a complaint from the island, a “Taiwan” tag was added last week, but it was then changed back to Chinese Taipei – which Taiwan’s foreign ministry blamed on Beijing’s “interferences.”
“We express great disappointment over the Qatar World Cup organisers’ failure to fight back improper political interference,” said Tsuei Ching-lin, the ministry’s deputy spokesman, at a press conference.
The Chinese government’s harassment… and political deception of international sporting events is condemned once more by the foreign ministry.”
China considers self-ruled, democratic Taiwan to be part of its territory, which Taipei strongly opposes, and vows to seize it one day, by force if needed.
Beijing is sensitive to any use of the word Taiwan, such as when Lithuania allowed Taipei to access a de facto diplomatic mission under its own name last year, for fear of endowing the island with international legitimacy.
The use of the name “Chinese Taipei” in the sporting world is based on a 1981 compromise reached with the International Olympic Committee to enable Taiwan to start competing on the international stage.
Qatar expects over one million visitors during the World Cup, that also runs from November 21 to December 18, and all must sign up for an ID card.