Scammers Prey on Football Fans during Lionel Messi’s Visit to Beijing
Chinese authorities have warned football fans about scams surrounding the visit of Lionel Messi, the legendary Argentine footballer, to Beijing for a friendly match against Australia. Ticket touts and scammers are desperate to cash in on the Messi mania. However, Beijing police have issued a warning against falling into the trap of false offers circulating in the public domain.
One offer repeatedly advertised on the internet offers fans a night with Messi for CNY 300,000 ($42,000). Beijing’s usually serious Public Security Bureau joked on Weibo that it would “toast you” if any rip-off occurs. Other false offers on the internet include stadium passes for CNY 5,000 and a VIP package that includes an autographed jersey, front-row seats, and a photo with Messi for CNY 8,000.
Another unauthorized ad claims that for CNY 50 million ($7 million), Messi will appear online to discuss the virtues of any product for the buyer’s online promotion. It is recommended to ignore such unauthorized offers to avoid being ripped off.
Match is Sold Out
Messi, who arrived in Beijing on Saturday, is set to lead the Argentina team against the Socceroos at Beijing’s newly renovated 68,000-capacity Workers’ Stadium. The match is a rematch of the World Cup round of 16 clash last winter when Argentina won 2-1 and lifted the trophy.
Chinese fans were eager to see their favourite footballer up close, and tickets for the match sold out within minutes. Scalpers on the online shopping platform Taobao are now reselling tickets for as much as CNY 18,000 ($2,500) despite strict anti-fraud measures.
Hundreds of people waited outside the Argentine team’s hotel in downtown Beijing, hoping to see Messi. However, visitors require valid identification documents to enter the stadium, which will curb black market ticket sales.
Messi, 35, who is about to sign up for Inter Miami after leaving Paris Saint-Germain, will also play another friendly against Indonesia on June 19.
(With information from AFP)