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Football fans up in arms over price gouging in Madrid

They demand consumer protection laws to shield them ahead of big final


WITH prices for a bunk bed in a hostel going for as much as 500 euros (S$771) in Madrid during the UEFA Champions League final this weekend, football fans have demanded consumer protection laws to shield them from what they say is price gouging by hotels in the Spanish capital.

Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur face off on June 1 in the Champions League showpiece match (Sunday June 2, 2.45am kick-off, Singapore time), and the first all-England final in more than a decade has seen a stampede of fan demand.

Travel website listed a single bunk bed in a four-bed female dormitory room at the Open Hostel Madrid near the central Plaza del Rey for a whopping 500 euros. The rate includes breakfast and the showers are communal.

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When a Reuters television crew turned up to check it out, however, staff said the price was only 60 euros and declined to comment on the inflated online price.

At the other end of the spectrum, the five-star hotel VP Plaza Espana is offering a presidential suite with butler service and use of a fleet of luxury cars for 30,000 euros, more than 10 times the price for the room alone. It includes VIP access to the Wanda Metropolitano stadium where the big match will be played.

"There are certain periods in the year in Madrid that prices rise significantly because there is a lot of demand, and this is one of those moments," said the hotel's marketing manager Laura Granados.

But some fans say prices have gone too far.

"It is time to stop cashing in on fan loyalty. We're calling for consumer protection measures to halt prices being forced up exponentially, and to stop the practice of repricing existing deals," Joe Blott, chairman of the Spirit of Shankly unofficial Liverpool fan club.

Many fans understood that high demand and limited supply would mean hiked bed costs, said Katrina Law from the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust, but she also called for some consumer rights protection. "Football fans are being exploited," she added. REUTERS