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Citi coins it in Asia

It may be a poor relation to the Rugby Sevens, but in football-mad Asia the Citi Soccer Sevens, held in Hong Kong, is starting to gain a strong following.

The event, held in May, pits a series of All-Star teams made up of veterans of the English Premier League with local Hong Kong sides and the youth teams of some of the biggest names in football.

The trophy went to Newcastle United, whose youngsters defeated Aston Villa in the final. This bodes well for the northeast England club, which surprised many to finish in an exalted fifth place in the Premier League this season.

But the real drama came in a match that pitted the sponsors’ two teams against each other. Citi HK faced off against Citi Singapore. The formbook suggested the visitors would win. A hard-fought battle ended in a nail-biting one-all draw.

But it did not end there. A trophy, as well as bragging rights, were on offer to the winner.

The Hong Kong team suggested a penalty shoot-out. Citi Singapore declined to take part. Why? Did they lack expert German penalty takers? Were they intimidated by the home crowd?

No: apparently, this match would form the just one leg of a series, with the winner decided in a return rubber.

Citi HK didn’t like the decision. So it went to a flip of a coin. Which Citi HK lost, it is claimed, because of confusion over the colour of the referee’s special, Fifa-embossed nugget. The penalty shoot-out never took place.

So it’s all on the return match, which is scheduled to take place during the Singapore Grand Prix weekend in September. Euromoney will be watching with interest...