Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid lined up for Hong Kong 20th anniversary reunification celebrations
Organisers are in touch with the Galacticos to bring their marquee stars to the city this summer, including the World Player of the Year and Gareth Bale
Hong Kong fans will be able to watch the world’s best player, Cristiano Ronaldo, in the flesh this summer if a €4 million (HK$32.4 million) deal to bring La Liga heavyweights Real Madrid to the city works out.
To mark the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s reunification with China, the government is splashing out cash to bring some of the world’s leading sports personalities and teams to Hong Kong in 2017.
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These include the Galacticos, who boast four-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, James Rodriguez as well as French manager and Real legend Zinedine Zidane.
“We are very keen to get the Spanish giants to Hong Kong and have made several contacts with Real,” said a source. “The response is quite positive and hopefully we can finalise the deal as soon as possible.
“This summer is going to be a soccer spree with the EPL Asia Trophy also taking place in Hong Kong in late July. Real Madrid last visited Hong Kong over a decade ago but since then all their players have changed.
“Now Cristiano Ronaldo has become the most important player in the team and we will definitely request his presence in Hong Kong along with all their other marquee players. It’s definitely going to be another thrilling experience for the fans.”
The Portugal international visited Macau in 2007 with Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson and the striker’s appearance in Hong Kong will be a major selling point for fans because of his charismatic presence on and off the pitch.
For the HKSAR 10th Anniversary Reunification Cup, Germany’s Bayern Munich beat Brazil’s Sao Paulo 2-1 on July 1, 2007. But this time, the Real Madrid match is planned for August after they complete a trip to Miami, United States to take part in the International Champions Cup.
The Galacticos last visited Hong Kong in 2003 during their Asia Tour and paraded their “Five Aces” – Zidane, Brazil international Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Roberto Carlos and David Beckham. They pulled in a full house of 40,000 at the Hong Kong Stadium.
The organisers are also confident the same will happen this year, which will help to offset most of the costs.
“The four million euros is only appearance money and there will be other expenses such as air fares and accommodation,” the source said. “We hope to set an average ticket price of HK$1,000 and a full house gate receipt will almost be enough for covering the appearance fee.
“We then have other commercial sponsors for the exhibition match and therefore we should not be going into the red.”
The Hong Kong Football Association lost more than HK$10 million over the visit of Lionel Messi and his Argentina team when the South Americans played here two years ago to celebrate the HKFA’s 100th anniversary. Only half of the So Kon Po venue was filled.
“That’s was a big lesson for us and we’ll try to avoid the mistakes we made last time,” the source said.
Other than soccer, the government is also trying to bring in top NBA players to Hong Kong this summer while snooker officials want to stage an invitation tournament featuring the best players to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the reunification.