Beijing: Chinese football fans raced on Wednesday to snap up tickets to see Cristiano Ronaldo play a rare match in their home country, with multiple online platforms selling out within a few hours.
Ronaldo is immensely popular in football-mad China, where many supporters have grown weary of dismal national team performances.
The Portuguese star’s current club, Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr, last month announced a “China Tour” featuring friendlies against Shanghai Shenhua and Zhejiang FC in the southern city of Shenzhen on January 24 and 28 respectively.
Fans frantically vied with each other as the coveted tickets went on sale online a little after 11am (0300 GMT) on Wednesday, with multiple platforms showing no available tickets by the evening.
Several media outlets reported that seats in all but the two most expensive categories had sold out “within seconds”.
Amid a sea of disappointment on social media, some lucky buyers voiced unbridled joy.
“On January 24, I will be the happiest girl in the whole world,” wrote one satisfied customer on Weibo.
“Whatever you think of Ronaldo, you can’t deny his greatness as a player,” said another. “Today his China tickets came on sale, and I actually got one!”
Ronaldo’s perennial rival Lionel Messi electrified Beijing’s Workers’ Stadium last year when he scored after 79 seconds to lead world champions Argentina to a 2-0 friendly win over Australia.
And fans of the South American maestro wasted no time in mocking what they claimed was weaker interest in Ronaldo’s visit.
“Ronny fans must be so happy. His replica shirts get cheaper each year, and now they barely have to scramble for tickets,” quipped one Weibo user.