Myanmar suffered a bruising 10-0 defeat to Japan on Friday in a qualifier for the 2022 soccer World Cup. The Southeast Asian team's first international match since February's coup was marked by protests on and off the pitch.
At least 10 players from the Myanmar squad refused to take the field. During the national anthem, the substitute goalkeeper gave the three-finger salute associated with the protests.
About 100 Myanmar people living in Japan staged a protest outside the stadium. They chanted that they don't want the soccer players to represent their country.
One protester said, "The military forced players to take part. The players are representing the junta, and I oppose them for the sake of people in Myanmar."
Captain Zaw Min Tun was among the players who opted out of the game. Speaking to NHK, the defender said he doesn't want to stand against the Myanmar soccer fans who oppose the coup.
He said, "The main reason I am boycotting the game is because I am with the people of Myanmar, so I have to stand with them. I don't want my children to think that I took sides with injustice. That's why I choose justice."
Myanmar's football federation said players who refuse to represent the country will face suspension and possible sanctions.
A local human rights group says 831 civilians have been killed nationwide in the military crackdown that followed the coup.