Angry soccer fans give Cityline red card over ticket sales fiasco for Hong Kong v China World Cup qualifier
Hongkongers trying to book online fail as tickets are sold out by lunch time, while lucky few who got concessionary tickets at Mong Kok Stadium had to line up the night before
Disappointed soccer fans criticised online booking system Cityline after tickets for the highly anticipated World Cup qualifying match between Hong Kong and China had sold out by lunch time yesterday.
Around 2,500 regular tickets priced at HK$150 were snapped up through Cityline by 12.30pm after sales started at 10am, but tens of thousands fans were denied an opportunity to make a purchase because they could not even get into the online system after trying the whole morning.
At Mong Kok Stadium, where the match will be held, two disgruntled fans hit the entrance gate after failing to buy the HK$50 concessionary tickets for senior citizens and students.
More than 500 people, with the earliest arriving the night before, lined up outside the box office, which closed at 11.30am when tickets had sold out. Some 586 concessionary tickets were sold at the box office, plus another 170 snapped up online.
More than 3,000 tickets were sold yesterday to home fans who were required to prove their Hong Kong identity when they bought tickets. They will also be required to show identity cards on match day on November 17.
READ: Hong Kong football fans betrayed as fear of offending motherland shuts them out of home derby against China
Although Mong Kok Stadium has a capacity of 6,400 seats, 900 tickets had already been sold as a package long before the three other home match qualifiers, while another 500 tickets were allocated to fans from across the border in line with Fifa rules.
A fan on social media said: “I cannot understand why they have to sell the tickets though this useless website Cityline.”
Another disappointed fan said: “I was unable to get into the system and then they said all tickets have been sold!”
Hong Kong Football Association chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak apologised to those who could not get tickets.
“There were a very limited number of tickets available for the public because of the size of the venue, but we faced a huge demand,” said Leung. “We have tried our best to accommodate as many fans as possible such as limiting our internal quota for clubs, VIPs and sponsors.”
It is believed former Hong Kong team coach Kwok Ka-ming could not get a ticket.
Leung said he understood the system had shown a busy message all morning.
“There is little we can do. We alerted Cityline that there would be high amount of traffic when the sales kicked off and we feel sorry the system could not respond properly,” he said.
The last fan to get a concessionary ticket at the stadium said he arrived just after 5am. “I came all the way from Kwun Tong, but it does not matter as I can watch the game,” he said.
Three Chinese University of Hong Kong students lined up a 6pm on Tuesday. “We want to support the Hong Kong team in person and would not trade our tickets at any price,” said one of the trio.