HK football surprised by low turnout

Friendly against Argentina manages to fill up only half the stadium as pro-democracy protests take place in Hong Kong.

    Despite Messi's presence - and a brace on the field - the turnout remained low [Reuters]
    Despite Messi's presence - and a brace on the field - the turnout remained low [Reuters]

    The Hong Kong Football Association were left red-faced and out of pocket after only managing to sell half the tickets for Tuesday's glamour friendly against Argentina to mark their centenary.

    Only 20,230 turned up at the 40,000 capacity Hong Kong Stadium to witness a two-goal, 30 minute cameo by four-time world player of the year Lionel Messi in a lop-sided 7-0 stroll for the World Cup runners-up.

    The South China Morning Post had reported months ago that the HKFA needed a full house in order to break even after pricing the cost of staging the fixture at HK$30 million ($3.87 million).

    "It is a shame. The second-best team in the world is here and we have a half-empty stadium," HKFA's Mark Sutcliffe told the paper after the match.

    "We will have a debrief with the agent and with all of our team. We will try to find out the reasons."

    It is a shame. The second-best team in the world is here and we have a half-empty stadium

    Mark Sutcliffe, Hong Kong Football Association

    Hong Kong protests

    Expensive ticket prices could be blamed, while many other Hong Kong residents simply have far more important things to worry about than football.

    Thousands of pro-democracy protesters have taken to the streets of the Chinese-controlled city in recent weeks, demanding that Beijing stand by a promise to introduce universal suffrage at elections for its leader in 2017.

    Central parts of Hong Kong have been brought to a standstill by protests now into their third week, although numbers have dwindled to hundreds after police intervention.

    The political mood was captured during the Argentina match, where boos could be heard for the Chinese national anthem before kick-off and yellow umbrellas, a symbol of the Occupy Central movement, were seen in the stands.

    After the prestige of the twice world champions, Hong Kong return to the more accustomed standards of life as the 164th-ranked FIFA nation when they travel to Taiwan next month to take on the hosts, North Korea and Guam in East Asian Cup qualifiers.

    SOURCE: Reuters


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    Why America's Russia hysteria is dangerous

    Why America's Russia hysteria is dangerous

    The US exaggerating and obsessing about foreign threats seems quite similar to what is happening in Russia.

    Heron Gate mass eviction: 'We never expected this in Canada'

    Hundreds face mass eviction in Canada's capital

    About 150 homes in one of Ottawa's most diverse and affordable communities are expected to be torn down in coming months