A Hong Kong travel agency has apologised for a batch of "fake" World Cup tickets it sold, after stadium officials denied four people entry to a semi-final game in Brazil.
The agency, Swire Travel, yesterday said it was working on making amends to the four tourists for the rest of their eight-day trip, which ends on Sunday.
The four were barred from the semi-final soccer match between Argentina and the Netherlands at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Wednesday because of "problematic barcodes" on their tickets.
They were among a group of 17 financial planners who were awarded the trip to watch the World Cup in Brazil by their employer Convoy Financial Services after they achieved their business targets of HK$60 million.
The publicly listed company in North Point bought the eight-day tour package, from July 6 to 13, for HK$110,000 a person from Swire Travel.
Convoy chairman Quincy Wong Lee-man, who was part of the tour group, told the South China Morning Post from Brazil that their excitement turned to shock when the four were told their tickets were "fake".
The group of 17 and their guide had arrived at the stadium about an hour before the game, and the four tourists' tickets were found to be "problematic" after a scan, Wong said.
Upon further examination, stadium staff said the tickets were "reprints" and confiscated them. The other 14 were admitted into the stadium.
The four eventually headed to a bar shortly before half-time and watched a television broadcast of the second half of the match.
"Watching the World Cup games in the stadium was the main purpose of our trip," Wong said. "Without it, it's like seeing no sea urchin in the sea urchin sushi you ordered. You can imagine how disappointed our staff members were."
A Swire Travel spokeswoman yesterday said the company had bought the tickets from an overseas agency and that it had taken steps to verify its credibility. She declined to identify the agency.
"We are liaising with the tourists now to work out how to make amends in the remaining time of their trip," she said.
She added that the company was checking with the overseas agency for more information and that the tour guide would report the incident to police in Brazil.