The excitement surrounding Lionel Messi’s visit to Beijing for a friendly match against Australia has attracted scammers and ticket scalpers, prompting Chinese police to issue a warning.
Numerous scams have emerged, offering false promises of exclusive experiences with the Argentine football legend.
One widely circulated advertisement claims that for 300,000 yuan ($42,000), individuals can enjoy an evening in Messi’s company. However, Beijing police have cautioned the public against falling for such scams and humorously remarked on the social media platform Weibo, “If you can be scammed of 300,000 yuan, we’ll raise a glass to you.”
Other dubious offers include selling “internal” stadium passes for 5,000 yuan and a “tailored VIP package” priced at over 8,000 yuan, which claims to provide an autographed jersey, front-row seats, and a photo opportunity with Messi.
Another unauthorized advertisement stated that Messi could be hired for a live shopping stream, endorsing a product for 50 million yuan.
Messi arrived in Beijing on Saturday and will lead the world champions against the Socceroos at the recently renovated 68,000-capacity Workers’ Stadiumlated News. The match is a rematch of their round-of-16 clash in the previous World Cup, where Argentina emerged victorious with a 2-1 win.
Chinese fans have been eager to get close to their hero, resulting in tickets for the game selling out rapidly, with prices ranging from 580 to 4,800 yuan.
Despite measures against scalping, including ID requirements for stadium entry, dozens of Taobao online shopping platform merchants are attempting to resell tickets for as much as 18,000 yuan.
Hundreds of people have gathered outside the Argentina team hotel in central Beijing, hoping to catch a glimpse of Messi after failing to secure match tickets. Messi will also participate in another friendly match against Indonesia in Jakarta on June 19, following the Beijing match.
Chinese authorities urge the public to exercise caution and avoid falling victim to fraudulent schemes during Messi’s visit.