Chinese football fans will have to pay up to 630 euros to see Lionel Messi play in Beijing on June 15, during the friendly match between Argentina and Australia, organizers said Friday. The match will mark the return of international football to China after three years of strict health restrictions that emptied stadiums and led to a cascade of cancellations of sports competitions.
The match between Australia and the world champion Argentina team will take place at the newly renovated Workers' Stadium with a capacity of 68,000 spectators. The clash will be a rematch of the knockout stages of the World Cup held in Qatar at the end of 2022, where the Albiceleste won 2-1 against the Socceroos. The tickets, which will be sold in two parts on June 5 and 8, will range from 580 yuan (76 euros) to 4,800 yuan, organizers said. To avoid illegal resale, buyers must give their identity, which will be checked at the entrance to the stadium. "No transfer or copy of tickets is allowed," according to the organizers.
But on the online sales platform Taobao, the most popular in China, various merchants already offered a ticket reservation service, one of them asking for 18,000 yuan (nearly 2,400 euros) to access VIP seats. Fans sharply criticized Friday on the social network Weibo the high prices of tickets. "I will denounce you for theft," wrote one of them on the official account of the organizers. "For 4,800 yuan, will Messi carry us on his back while playing?" quipped another. Lionel Messi enjoys immense popularity in China as elsewhere in the world.