Football fans warned to beware of scalpers after tickets for Lionel Messi match in Hong Kong sell out in 1 hour

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Fans of football superstar Lionel Messi have been warned about scalpers reselling tickets for his coming friendly match in Hong Kong after they sold out within an hour.

Sports minister Kevin Yeung Yun-hung and the game’s commercial partner, Tatler Asia, on Saturday reminded those hoping to attend the February 4 match between Messi’s club Inter Miami and a Hong Kong team that tickets came in the form of QR codes.

“A small number of tickets may be going around the internet for resale which could fetch astronomical prices,” Yeung said. “Everyone should be careful, as it is impossible to verify the QR codes ahead of the match.”

Asked if there were measures to tackle scalping, Yeung said authorities had in the past required organisers to put most of the tickets up for public sale and adopted the system of “real names” where appropriate.

Sports minister Kevin Yeung says scalped tickets can fetch “astronomical prices”. Photo: Edmond So

He added the government would consider increasing penalties or amending laws to curb such practices, taking into account the latest situation in the community before deciding on the next steps.

In a post on Instagram, Tatler also warned that fans should not purchase tickets through any unofficial channels.

Messi fever as Hong Kong tickets sell out then scalpers net HK$12,000 on Viagogo

“Each ticket is valid for a one-time entry only and those who purchase tickets from non-official channels are taking a significant risk as there is no way for them to identify the validity of their e-tickets,” it said.

Seats at the match, priced from HK$880 (US$113) to HK$4,880, could be bought officially only on the Klook app, with supporters quickly descending on resale site Viagogo to shell out sums ranging from HK$8,800 to HK$12,000 to snare two tickets together to watch the US club, co-owned by David Beckham.

Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d’Or award eight times. Photo: Getty Images

Scalped tickets are also seen on online sales platform Carousell at HK$5,000 for four consecutive seats. Tickets for the public training session to take place a day before the match were also available at HK$780.

The 36-year-old Messi – whose World Cup success with Argentina completed a personal clean sweep of major club and international honours – is set to play at Hong Kong Stadium on February 4. Miami and former Barcelona teammates Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba will join the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner.

Tatler, which set the price of the original tickets according to Hong Kong Football Association chairman Eric Fok Kai-shan, added that it was working on broadcasting the match so those who did not manage to secure a ticket could watch it on television.

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