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'Robbery' as organisers charge $680 to see Messi in China

'Robbery' as organisers charge $680 to see Messi in China

June 2, 2023 (AFP)

Chinese football fans will need to shell out up to $680 to see Lionel Messi lead Argentina against Australia in a Beijing friendly, organisers said Friday.

The game on June 15 at the 68,000-capacity Workers' Stadium is a rematch of Argentina and Australia's meeting in the last 16 of the Qatar World Cup.

Messi, who is set to leave Paris Saint-Germain this summer, scored in a 2-1 win for Argentina and they went on to lift the World Cup.

Tickets ranging from 580 yuan ($82) to 4,800 yuan will go on sale in two batches, on June 5 and 8, organisers said.

Disgruntled fans online quickly decried the prices for the exhibition game.

"I'm reporting you for robbery," one user on the Twitter-like Weibo commented on the organisers' official account.

"For 4,800, will Messi carry us on his back while he plays?" wrote another.

It will be Messi's first visit to China since 2017.

Strict steps are being taken to prevent scalping, with spectators required to provide identification information and show ID cards or passports to enter the stadium.

But merchants on China's Taobao shopping platform immediately began offering booking services for the tickets, with one seller charging 18,000 yuan for what they claimed was access to VIP seats.

International sport has only just begun to return to China after Beijing abruptly ditched strict virus curbs late last year.

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