Since the Hong Kong Rugby Union announced that the Asian Rugby Sevens Qualifier for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio will take place in Hong Kong Stadium, there has been confusion over what this might mean for the coming football game between Hong Kong and China. As the rugby event will take place on November 7-8, there are now doubts that the pitch could be repaired and adjusted on time for the important World Cup Qualifier match one week later, on November 17.
Meanwhile, the HKFA has allegedly looked into alternative options, however, Hong Kong’s 2nd biggest stadium, the Siu Sai Wan Sports Ground with about 12,000 seats, has already been booked by another party for that day. This would mean the only viable option would be again Mong Kok Stadium, with a max. capacity of 6,600.
Nevertheless, we are hopeful that the HKFA can sort out these difficulties, so that the game could go ahead as planned in the prestigious Hong Kong Stadium. The recent performances have given a great boost to local football and chances are high that the game against China could become another sell out, even if there are 40,000 tickets available.
Both associations as well as local authorities should try their utmost to make this historic and “once-in-a-decade” event accessible to as many people as possible. Because after all, which is the “people’s game” in Hong Kong: football or rugby?
While we deeply respect and admire the achievements of the Rugby Union in and for Hong Kong, the Census and Statistics Department has a clear answer to this question.