David Beckham on Galaxy tour in Asia
SEOUL, South Korea -- David Beckham will make what may be a farewell tour with the Los Angeles Galaxy in the coming week in a trio of Asian games that have spawned local discussion about ticket prices.
The Galaxy will play an Indonesian Select XI in Jakarta on Wednesday, followed by a meeting Dec. 3 with the Philippines national team in Manila, then a game against Australian club Melbourne Victory three days later.
Beckham is contractually obliged to play, and these may be his last appearances in a Galaxy jersey, with speculation ongoing about a move back to Europe.
The cost of tickets for the upcoming games had raised eyebrows in local markets, with fears they will be out of reach for poorer fans in Jakarta and Manila, in particular.
The last time L.A. Galaxy toured Asia was in 2008, when the team was met with some disappointing attendance. In South Korea, only half of the 66,000 seats at Seoul World Cup Stadium were occupied, and four days later in Shanghai, only about 10,000 fans bought tickets for the match.
Australia has been different however, with 80,000 fans turning out to watch the game against Sydney in 2007, while last year's game against Newcastle Jets was almost a sellout.
Indonesian organizer Mahaka Sports is hoping that sales for Wednesday's game will follow the Australia pattern, though there, too, fans of host Melbourne Victory have criticized ticket prices that start at $60.
Reports in the Jakarta media say 40,000 of the 76,000 available tickets need to be sold to break even, but only 20,000 have been sold.
Selling out the 13,000 capacity Rizal Stadium in Manila should be an easier task, although with the cheapest tickets available at $45, similar in price to the most expensive tickets at a recent 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Kuwait, there is no guarantee the arena will be full.
The former England captain's visit is a boost to the sport in the Philippines, where the national team is low-ranked and other sports command more attention.
"David Beckham is a crowd-puller and for him to come here is a big thing and people are excited to see him here," said Nonong Araneta, president of the Philippine Football Association. "It is not only good for football but for the country. Bringing a celebrity is good for the image of the Philippines."
In Melbourne, the game is being billed as a belated clash between Beckham and recent Victory signing Harry Kewell. The two were among the biggest stars in the English Premier League when their respective clubs, Manchester United and Leeds United, were fighting for major titles in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press