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HK to review funding system for major sports events' approval, says HK's tourism chief

HK to review funding system for major sports events' approval, says HK's tourism chief

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The Hong Kong government will review the approval and monitoring mechanism of the “M” mark system (M品牌) following Argentinian football star Lionel Messi’s absence in an exhibition match in the city earlier this month, said Hong Kong’s tourism chief Kevin Yeung.

In a written response to legislator Paul Tse, Yeung said that the Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau (CSTB) and the Major Sports Events Committee are “currently consolidating experiences” from the Messi fiasco that includes reviewing the approval and monitoring mechanism of the “M” mark system.

The review is expected to be completed by the third quarter of this year.

The “M” mark system was launched in 2004 to support the hosting of international sports events in Hong Kong through the provision of matching funds and direct grants, which the government hopes will enhance the future of sporting event sponsorships among enterprises and support sports development in Hong Kong.

Yeung said that the vetting criteria for granting the “M” Mark include the player line-up of the participating teams, financial viability, effect in driving the economy, media coverage and marketing plans, community appeal and social benefits, contribution to sports development, as well as the ability, technical expertise and administrative competence of the organiser. 

The CSTB will carry out an evaluation and audit check upon the completion of the event to determine the final amount of the government grant from the “M” mark system to the organiser as a measure of safeguarding public money. 

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The exhibition match between Inter Miami and the Hong Kong team was held on 4 February and organised by Tatler Asia . The event was originally awarded the “M” status and was eligible for HK$16 million of government funding for sports events and under the condition that Messi must play in the match for at least 45 minutes. 

Tatler Asia has subsequently withdrawn its application from the “M” Mark programme and renounced all government funding following widespread criticism and complaints from football fans.  

The organiser has also agreed to offer a 50% ticket price refund to those who bought tickets to the match via their official website, which Yeung said the government considers a responsible act.

Related articles:
Messi attributes no-show for HK friendly to ‘bad luck’
What led to the PR debacle around Messi no-show for Inter Miami friendly?
Messi fiasco: Roundup of trendjacking posts from brands in HK

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