Chelsea have announced that fans in Indonesia will be refunded after they were ripped off for autographs, coaching sessions and meeting the players ahead of next week’s visit to Jakarta.
Fans were asked to pay nearly £1,500 for an opportunity to meet the players, with £460 being charged for a shirt to be signed and £330 to take part in a coaching session.
The fees were implemented by promoters Ninesport, who were hired by Chelsea’s banking partner in Indonesia BMI, who are also sponsoring next week’s match in Jakarta.
Chelsea were told of the fees leading to an immediate investigation, and they announced that the process of issuing refunds had begun to defuse the situation.
The Blues stressed that it was not part of their philosophy to charge fans to meet the players, and that the misunderstanding was blamed on cultural differences. They also said that the only thing fans should be paying for are match-day tickets.
It is apparently an accepted practice in Indonesia to allow promoters to charge extortionate amounts for such events. Other teams have operated by the same system although under different promoters, as Arsenal fans – whose team visited Jakarta last weekend – were not asked to pay for similar opportunities.
A spokesman for Chelsea said: “We were made aware today that a number of people were being charged a fee for access to certain non-match day events during our stay in Jakarta.
“While we understand this is accepted practice in Indonesia, it does not fit with our tour philosophy of ‘Here to Play, Here to Stay’ which works towards leaving a lasting legacy in countries and communities we visit. Therefore, anyone who bought a ticket for one of these events will be refunded, and granted ticketed access for free.”
The club opened on of their ‘Blue Pitch’ training facilities in the Thai capital earlier this week, and current players Gary Cahill, Kevin de Bruyne, Josh McEachran and Romelu Lukaku led a coaching session for over 50 children in the local area, who were invited to the event by charities connected to the beer company Singha, who are sponsoring the match in Bangkok.