Barca vow to bring a galaxy of stars

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 May, 2007, 12:00am

Barcelona yesterday promised to bring their 'A' team, including Brazilian ace Ronaldinho, to Hong Kong for the Mission Hills Cup against a combined Happy Valley-Kitchee side on August 10.

Javier Munoa, director of international business at the Catalan giants, said the game, which comes just two weeks before the start of the Spanish season, was an important part of the team's preparation.

'We are aware of the importance of bringing specific players,' Munoa said. 'Our plan is to come with all of our stars. We need to be with the full team - it is part of our preparation.'

Happy Valley coach Lo Kai-wah and his Kitchee counterpart, Antonic Dejan, will choose 10 to 12 players from each team. 'By forming a joint team we hope to give Barcelona a real match,' said Koon Wing-yee, chief executive of Happy Valley. 'Players from both clubs are looking forward to this extraordinary challenge.'

In addition to the Hong Kong stop, Barcelona will play games in Beijing and Tokyo on August 5 and 7. Munoa said that with global interest in Barcelona, visits to Asia were necessary in order to cater to fans and expand Barcelona's famous brand.

'Coming to Asia once every two years is mandatory,' he said.

Last month, the South China Morning Post reported that Barcelona would be receiving HK$17 million for their visit. However, officials yesterday declined to reveal financial details. They stated their intentions to have a charitable aspect to the match.

The HKU Spinal Cord Injury Fund and the United Christian Medical Service are to be the beneficiaries, but it was unclear to what extent charity would be the focus.

Kitchee president Ken Ng Kin spoke of a planned charity dinner but did not specify whether any of the match's proceeds would go towards the two charities.

Tickets are expected to go on sale in the next few weeks via the internet and will range from HK$380 to HK$1,200, with a set of tickets for students and seniors at HK$180. A certain undisclosed number of tickets will be on sale at Hong Kong Stadium starting on July 14.