Fans pleased by stars on display but lament tight controls

The completion of the International Champions Cup (ICC) Singapore last night concluded three football matches at the National Stadium by top-class European sides Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan.

While the line-ups might not have been the teams' strongest XIs, with players being left out for a variety of reasons ranging from extended holidays and injuries, football fans were still thrilled by the presence of a slew of notable players from the three clubs.

Stars such as Bayern's Thomas Muller, Chelsea's new boy Alvaro Morata and Inter's Croatian winger Ivan Perisic caught the fans' eyes, in the absence of Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard as well as Bayern duo Arjen Robben and Manuel Neuer.

In all, 104,407 fans watched the three matches.

Chelsea fan Iman Nurdin, 35, travelled six hours by bus from Malaysia specifically to catch his team take on Inter Milan last night.

He said: "All the players who lined up were in the first team. Unfortunately, there was no Eden Hazard but it's okay, we still had other players that we are able to watch."

"Of course we're happy to see the players, hopefully we are still able to see them in the pre-season tour next year.

"This year, there were only three teams compared to Shanghai, Beijing and the US, where they lined up more teams.

"Hopefully next year they bring more teams, bigger teams, maybe get six teams down for the ICC."

Apart from the three matches over the week, there were many fringe activities during the three clubs' stay in Singapore.

Chelsea and Inter, both kitted by Nike, held their respective kit launches where fans got up close and personal with the players, most of whom were friendly and obliging with requests during these official activities.

However, not every fan managed to get their merchandise signed or meet the players, due to time constraints.

Other sponsor events allowed fans to interact with the players, but none of the training sessions were open to the public for viewing.

Student Rudi Wiejaya, 16, said: "I wish that I can buy cheap tickets for training, it's better than giving complimentary passes to us. Many of us want to watch the training sessions of the clubs.

"I also went to the hotel and met James (Rodriguez), Muller and Robert Lewandowski, and Lewandowski signed an autograph for me.

"However, no pictures were allowed as security was very strict."

When the Argentina national team came to play Singapore last month, Rudi similarly staked out the Fullerton Hotel till 4am to catch Juventus starlet Paulo Dybala, but security was strict as well and no photos were allowed.

"Maybe the security can ease up a bit and let the fans touch or take pictures with the players," he added.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance when the players come to Singapore and, if they come once, they may not come again."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 30, 2017, with the headline 'Fans pleased by stars on display but lament tight controls'. Print Edition | Subscribe