World soccer legends to play at Hong Kong tournament
Published: Feb 13, 2024 05:00 PM
Poster of the Hong Kong Lunar New Year Cup Photo: Hong Kong Football Association

Poster of the Hong Kong Lunar New Year Cup Photo: Hong Kong Football Association

Seventeen world soccer legends will entertain the crowds with a local all-star team at the Hong Kong Lunar New Year soccer tournament that is set to kick off on Tuesday evening at the Hong Kong Stadium.

Organized by the Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) since 1908, the annual invitational tournament made a festive return after a 4-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The exhibition match features some soccer icons including Brazilian World Cup winner Rivaldo, former Barcelona captain and Spanish World Cup winner Carles Puyol, and former Roma captain and Italian World Cup winner Francesco Totti. 

Former English international goalie David James expressed anticipation about sharing the pitch with legendary stars and assured that all 17 of them would be given playing opportunities.

Local fans were happy to see the comeback of the traditional tournament and said that the match will not be impacted by an earlier friendly match between Inter Miami and Hong Kong all-star side where Argentine star Lionel Messi didn’t take the field saying he was injured. 

Three days after Messi’s absence from the match which disappointed more than 38,000 local fans and tourists onsite at the Hong Kong Stadium, he played for over 30 minutes in a not-so-packed stadium in Japan on February 7, adding fuel to the flames of angered fans.

“I’m excited to see the return of the Lunar New Year Cup. For me, the most anticipated football star to see is Rivaldo,” a local fan told the Southern Metropolis Daily.

“Even if one of the stars is unable to play this time, there are still more than a dozen others. The lineup for the tournament is amazing. There's no need to worry about player absences. Moreover, the ticket prices this time are much more reasonable, making it worth seeing,” said a fan who requested to be anonymous. 

The price of the tournament ticket ranges between $HK 180 to 980 ($23-125). While the tickets of the Hong Kong friendly were sold for $HK 880 to 4,880 ($113-624). 

Following the farce and the fans’ outrage over Messi’s no-show in Hong Kong, Tatler Asia, the organizer of the friendly, said on Friday that it would give a 50 percent refund to those who purchased tickets through "official channels."

The world legends team also features Italian Alessandro Del Piero, four-time La Liga top scorer David Villa and former French international Robert Pires while the Hong Kong side includes former and active players Chan Siu-ki, Fan Chun-yip and Yapp Hung-fai.

Chan said that he has followed the football legends since his childhood and is eagerly anticipating the opportunity to play alongside them in what promises to be an excellent match on Tuesday.