Soccer fans hot under the collar over ticketing

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 July, 2007, 12:00am

Thousands of fans of English Premier League soccer hoping to see Liverpool, Portsmouth and Fulham in action complained yesterday about ticket-selling arrangements that left them sweltering in the sun.

More than 2,000 fans began queuing outside Hong Kong Stadium on Thursday. Tickets for the Barclays Asia Trophy went on sale at 9am yesterday, with the Hong Kong Football Association allowing fans to choose their own seats.

But many said this had slowed down the process of buying tickets. Tickets were still available when sales were suspended at 9.30pm, although top-price tickets had sold out. Sales were to resume today.

Brian Leung Hung-tak, chairman of the association, had said that he expected all tickets to be sold by yesterday evening. He said it would not be fair to fans if tickets were sold online.

Each fan was limited to four tickets per match per day, with prices ranging from HK$100 to HK$350. Some 40,000 tickets were available for the games on July 24 and 27.

So Ming, who began queuing on Thursday afternoon, was the first to get tickets. He and his friends bought 13 tickets, but he said it was chaotic.

Some fans were upset that the canteen at the stadium was not open earlier, which meant they had no food or drinks on a hot day. When it did open in the afternoon, there were complaints about prices, with a bottle of water costing HK$16.

Hong Kong soccer fans have always been passionate about watching foreign teams. Four years ago, when Real Madrid visited the city, fans wanting to watch David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane began queuing almost a week before tickets went on sale.

This month's four-team tournament, which also features local FA Cup champions South China, will be in a knockout format. There will be a final and a playoff for third place.