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New HK$100 million pitch at Hong Kong Stadium can’t host FIFA World Cup qualifier

New HK$100 million pitch at Hong Kong Stadium can’t host FIFA World Cup qualifier
November 10, 2015

Hong Kong Stadium’s newly renovated pitch will not be available to host the highly anticipated FIFA World Cup qualifier between Hong Kong and China next week.

Although a HK$100 million (US$12 million) renovation of the formerly troubled pitch was recently completed, and was hailed for being "top-class" by Government officials, it has been decided that having hosted the two-day rugby sevens Olympic Asian zone qualifying tournament over the past weekend (7th and 8th November), it cannot host the important FIFA World Cup qualifier on 17th November.

As a result, the game has been moved from the 40,000 seat venue to the smaller Mong Kok Stadium with a 7,000 capacity.

Commenting on the matter in September, Cameron Hodgkins, Head of Sports Turf Management at Hong Kong’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department, stated “a world-class surface would be highly unlikely following such an intensive rugby tournament."

Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) Chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak described the situation as "very disappointing" adding that the HKFA is now facing a big loss in fan support and an estimated HK$3 million in gate receipts.

In a statement, the HKFA added “this is a huge match with massive demand for tickets and it is very disappointing that the main stadium in Hong Kong will not be ready, thus depriving many fans of an opportunity to support the Hong Kong team from the stands.”

Demand for tickets has been high with many fans were left frustrated by official ticket sales website Cityline.

Tickets are currently being offered online via ticket resellers for for up to 20 times their face value.

Images (from top):
Turf recovery under lights at Hong Kong Stadium. Image courtesy: David Wong
The Hong Kong national football team at Mong Kok Stadium. Courtesy Hong Kong Football Association.
Hong Kong football fans at Mong Kok Stadium. Image: Facebook/Hong Kong Premier League.

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