Korean fans disappointed and angered by soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo’s solely bench-warming presence at a friendly match between Juventus FC from Turin, Italy and a team of K League players last week are pursuing a class-action suit against the organizer for failing to meet legal obligations.
The 34-year-old star athlete -- whose first visit in 12 years was highly anticipated among fans here-- was benched in the exhibition match last Friday at the World Cup Stadium in western Seoul.
“(Event organizer) The Fasta profited from advertising the friendly match to soccer fans, and for success (in ticket sales) they emphasized that Ronaldo would play over 45 minutes,” read a blog post by lawyers Yu Hyung-bin and Kim Hun-ki of law firm MyungAn. MyungAn is leading the class-action suit.
“The abrupt cancellation of Ronaldo’s attendance in the fan signing event, the delay in kickoff due to team Juventus’ tardiness and the 400,000 won ($337) buffet with no chairs and tables are also problems,” it said. The buffet was part of some premium packages offered by The Fasta.
The post added that ticket holders could demand a partial refund from event organizer The Fasta by holding it accountable for breach of contract.
The post had some 2,180 private comments as of 12:20 p.m. Monday.
Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo (middle) of Juventus FC sits out during a friendly exhibition against a team of K League players Friday at World Cup Stadium in western Seoul. (Yonhap)
A total 65,000 tickets for the match sold out in 2 1/2 hours-- including premium zone seats priced up to 400,000 won that sold out in 15 minutes -- attributable to promotions promising at least 45 minutes played by Ronaldo.
“We were not aware that Ronaldo would not play in the match. We made multiple requests and complaints to Juventus, but they were ignored,” said The Fasta.
According to The Fasta, the contract guaranteed Ronaldo play at least 45 minutes and said that Juventus could be subject to penalties of less than one-fourth of the game fee if it failed to meet obligations.
Juventus received some 3.5 billion won for the friendly.
Amidst growing backlash, a groups of Juventus officials are expected to visit Korea this week to apologize for Cristiano Ronaldo’s no-show.
“I spoke with the Juventus manager who was in charge of this project. The manager apologized, saying, ‘Everything that happened in Korea is our fault,’” said The Fasta CEO Robin Jang in an interview with local media.
Details regarding the visit by Juventus representatives have not been finalized, Jang added
Ronaldo, who had skipped the exhibition match citing tiredness, has come under fire with Korean fans for posting a short clip on social media of himself running on a treadmill with the caption “Nice to be back home.”
By Kim Bo-gyung (firstname.lastname@example.org