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10.08.2007 14:02

Soriano: “Playing on Saturday the best option”

David Saura

Vice-president Ferran Soriano has justified the decision to switch the game with Mission Hills Invitation XI to Saturday, citing a variety of reasons as the motives.

Vice president Ferran Soriano is the club’s main representative in Hong Kong now that Joan Laporta is back in Barcelona to attend Nicolau Casaus’ funeral, and has explained why today’s game in the former British colony has been postponed until 8.30 (14.30 local time) on Saturday. “We have done everything we can to make sure Barça’s fans in Hong Kong can get to see a game without this being detrimental to the team’s programme. It is better to stay here and play than to go off without playing, but it would not be a good idea to stay here for too many days.” The switch to Saturday was, he believes “the best option”.

Transport on hold

The first reason for putting the game off until Saturday is that it is currently impossible to get to Hong Kong airport, as when a typhoon reaches level eight, insurance companies will not pay out, and taxis and busses stop running. A lot of companies in the city have closed down and sent their employees home.

Barça’s image in Asia

It would also look very bad on the team if they were to leave Hong Kong without playing a match for which 36,000 tickets have already been sold. “It is important for our fans here to get to see Barça” said Soriano, “and we have made every effort to make sure the match does get played”.

Sporting priorities

Sporting issues were also high on the agenda at an emergency meeting held at the Hotel Grand Hyatt. Ferran Soriano said that Frank Rijkaard liked the idea of playing on Saturday to keep the players in shape, especially considering Friday’s training session was cancelled due to the typhoon.

The game will be played at 14:30 local time rather than 20.00 as originally suggested to fall in line with the team’s travel plans. “We have changed the time and made it as early as possible in order to be able to fly back to Barcelona at six in the evening so that the players can get home in time to go to their houses and get some sleep”.

Four-way meeting

FC Barcelona’s staff were joined in the meeting by representatives of the stadium, the Hong Kong police and the promoters of the match, Pro Events. The vice president explained that playing this game is worth 1.7 million euros to FC Barcelona.
Soriano: “Playing on Saturday the best option”

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What will Saturday’s weather be like?
The forecast says that the typhoon will hit Hong Kong at 22.00 (16.00 CET), and will last about two hours. So, there should be no problem playing the match on Saturday at midday. Soriano said “the weather forecasters say that it is highly unlikely that there will be bad weather tomorrow” but if there is and the match cannot go ahead “we have to go back without playing the game”.

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