Five years ago, a friendly football match between Brazil and Japan at the National Stadium drew a crowd of almost 52,000 to the venue.
Less than half that number turned up to watch Brazil take on Senegal at the same venue on 10 October.
It was not lost on most media outlets who recorded that the 20,621 number was a poor turnout.
“Brazil, Senegal in drab draw” screamed the New Paper headline, while a Straits Times story said “The stars come to play but the fans stay away”.
Despite the star players on display like Neymar, Roberto Firmino, Fabinho, Philippe Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus and Sadio Mane, fans decided that they would skip the show and National Stadium altogether.
There are a few possible reasons why fans did not fill up the venue, compared to Brazil’s match against Japan in 2014, also a friendly.
- The Selecao’s performances over the last few World Cup competitions have meant that their base on fans have diminished. Brazil last won the World Cup in 2002, and have not made the finals ever since.
- The last match at the National Stadium was against Japan, which has among the most vociferous and loyal fans and supporters around the world. To them, sport is a religion and they will support their national team if needed. Apart from Sadio Mane, how many more players from Senegal could fans identity with?
- Tickets were priced between $49 to $299 before discounts or bundling. The organisers may have gotten their sums wrong in relation to what the public would be willing to pay for a friendly match involving Brazil. It is unfortunate but quality content comes at a price. But what price is affordable to the average sports fan in Singapore?
- The upcoming Singapore vs Uzbekistan World Cup qualifier could have also played a part. This isn’t a bad thing for Singapore football, if fans were more willing to pay to watch a Singapore Lions match compared to a meaningless friendly involving Brazil and Senegal and/or Nigeria.
- It is examination season now with the ‘O’ Levels and ‘A’ Levels around the corner. Parents may have kept their children away from the venue and kept them at home with their books instead.
Whatever the reasons for the poor turnout of 20,000 fans for the Brazil- Senegal match, it may be important to recognise that at least the Singapore Sports Hub venue has been able to attract some interesting events over the last few months, which include the International Champions Cup which had teams like Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in town, and also the upcoming U2 concert over two days in November and December.
The organisers of the friendly matches involving Brazil as part of this global tour, along with the Sports Hub team are doing their part to bring content to the National Stadium.
Fans and members of the the public should recognise this and give credit where it is due.
Photos: Weixiang Lim/Zeitgeist Photos