Myanmar’s deflated football team made it to Japan for World Cup qualifiers only for one of its few remaining players to seize the moment by flashing a symbol of defiance.
In the latest show of anti-coup resistance to Myanmar’s military regime, footballer Pyae Shan Aung flashed the three-finger-salute at their Friday match with Team Japan in Chiba.
“We Need Justice,” were written in English on the fingers Aung raised in an instantly viral moment calling for Myanmar security forces to be held accountable for crimes against humanity after killing more than 900 civilians and arresting at least 7,200 others since the Feb. 1 coup d’etat.
Brave #Myanmar goalkeeper Pyae Lyan Aung flashes a three-finger salute at the World Cup qualifier against Japan tonight, a protest against the military coup. Some players boycotted the game, saying they did not want to represent the junta.#WhatsHappeningInMyanmar pic.twitter.com/oB4WlA4zRU
— Poppy McPherson (@poppymcp) May 28, 2021
Unfortunately for the team, while Myanmar secured a symbolic victory against the military regime, it lost to Japan 10-0, a complete rout of its deflated roster after multiple players boycotted the match entirely.
Athletes have been at the forefront of Myanmar’s fight for democracy.
Win Htet Oo, an Olympic hopeful, announced in April that he would skip the Tokyo Olympics to protest the coup.
“I shall not march in the parade of nations under a flag steeped in my people’s blood,” the Myanmar swimmer said in the statement.
MMA fighter Phoe Thaw and his younger brother football player, Kaung Si Thu also spoke out consistently against the military until they were both arrested earlier this month in connection to a series of bomb blasts around Thaw’s Bahan Township gym. Phoe Thaw was snatched by security forces hours after he hospitalized with serious burns from an explosion.
MMA fighter Antoniyar fled to ethnic armed territories in the early months of the Spring Revolution to receive military training in order to contribute to the revolution. She urged athletes to join the civil disobedience movement and refused to represent the junta at international sporting events.
Myanmar’s esports scene has also used its platform to spread the word of #WhatshappeninginMyanmar. In April, players included #SaveMyanmar at the end of their ingame handles, drawing attention to the ongoing struggle.
Myanmar woman MMA fighter Antoniyar joined armed training in the jungle as she expressed that she wants to contribute her efforts in the revolution. She also urged other athletes not to represent the junta and joined CDM.#WhatsHappeningInMyanmar pic.twitter.com/T5nB3rKufE
— Athens Zaw Zaw (@zaw_athens) April 29, 2021
Team Veteran, Myanmar representative team on Esports DOTA 2, has become the Champions of APAC Predator League Grand Final 2020/2021 in Asia Region. The players used “#SaveMyanmar” in every Game Name during the games, attracting attention from the word on Myanmar situation. pic.twitter.com/LgESA69ja5
— Athens Zaw Zaw (@zaw_athens) April 10, 2021