S’pore football fans plan rare public protest over World Cup fees


Disgruntled Singapore football fans said they are planning a public demonstration Saturday against high subscription fees the country’s two television providers are charging for the World Cup starting June 11.

The rally, a rare event in the tightly controlled city-state, is set to be staged at Speaker’s Corner in Hong Lim Park, a venue for public protest, which was created in response to criticism of the government’s policies on free speech.

‘We have booked the Speaker’s Corner for our group gathering on June 5,’ the organizers said on the social networking website Facebook.

After Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (SingTel) and StarHub announced that viewers would be charged a minimum of 70.62 Singapore dollars (50.22 US dollars) to watch the games live, up to seven times the price for the 2006 tournament, fans of the game formed a group on Facebook calling for a boycott of the companies.

Currently, the group counts more than 27,200 members, according to its website.

On Friday, SingTel and Starhub justified their price policy, saying they were not profiteering from the World Cup.

‘In fact, all we are hoping for is to break even,’ they said in a joint statement run by the Straits Times newspaper.

For their boycott campaign, the organizers printed red cards saying ‘You’re Off! SingTel, Starhub,’ imitating the cards referees use for sending players off the pitch.

On their website, they called on football fans to join the ‘2010 World Cup Celebration’ at Speaker’s Corner and ‘be part of the first red card wave in Singapore.’


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