“Beijing or bust!” That’s been the Summer Break 2005 mantra for foreign soccer clubs. Manchester United plays there today. Sheffield United played there last week. And just a few days ago, a Beckham-less Real Madrid squad sloshed its way to a 3-2 win over Beijing Hyundai. Depending on who you read, Beijing’s 70,000-seat Workers’ Stadium was either less than half full or just barely half full for that match, but everybody reports that Real Madrid didn’t win over many fans during its China tour. RMB 600 tickets were being scalped for less than one-third of face value. CCTV threatened a media blackout of the match because Real Madrid refused to sign some kind of “cooperation agreement.” And reportedly some Real players failed to show at scheduled promotional events. A no-doubt scientific Sina.com survey showed that 96 percent of respondents said Real Madrid “came to China with the sole goal of making money” and 62 percent said they wouldn’t support the team if it returned to China. Twenty-seven percent said Los Galicticos bored them.
Now it’s finally time for Shanghai to share in the fun! The 2005 Shanghai International Football Tournament (also known as the 2005 Budweiser Cup by Anheuser-Busch employees) kicks off tomorrow night at Shanghai Stadium. The tournament features three teams from La Liga, the Spanish pro league — FC Sevilla, Villareal and Real Zaragoza — and Shanghai United, an all-star team comprised of players from Shanghai’s four pro teams. A report filed 11 days ago said Villareal striker Diego Forlan, one of La Liga’s top scorers, would play in Shanghai. Also expected to play are Villareal’s Juan Roman Riquelme, of Argentina, and FC Sevilla’s Brazilian forward Julio Baptista. Tickets for the tournament range in price from RMB 30 to RMB 880, but we’re confident you can get a good deal if you just hang outside the stadium. We highly doubt all 80,000 seats will be filled.
According to the Shanghai Star, the Shanghai International Football Tournament ran from 1991 to 2001 and then went on a four-year hiatus because, well, because nothing is ever certain when it comes to Chinese soccer. The paper also said Italian team Juventus is expected to play a friendly against Shanghai Shenhua on August 10.
2005 Shanghai International Football Tournament
July 27: Shanghai United vs. FC Sevilla, 7:45 pm
July 28: Villareal vs. Real Zaragoza, 7:45 pm
July 30: Consolation Match and Championship Match, 5:30 pm and 7:45 pm