New Delhi: Police used lathis to beat back cricket fans trying to buy tickets in Bangalore on Thursday even as World Cup organizers criticized Indian officials over ticketing chaos and cricket fans hoping to catch the action at the ground were left wondering where the tickets had gone.
In Bangalore, for instance, the Chinnaswamy Stadium that is to host Sunday’s crucial match between India and England that could well decide who tops their group, has a capacity of around 50,000 but only 7,500 tickets are meant for the public (and all were taken on Thursday).
The other tickets go to members of Karnataka’s cricket association, sponsors, local authorities and cricket administrators from India and elsewhere, reflecting a trend in ticket distribution that has plagued cricket in the country for years, and which is being played out across the venues where World Cup matches are scheduled.
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An official said complimentary tickets are usually given to government agencies, municipal authorities, the police and local electricity departments so as to conduct the matches smoothly.
“These are the people that help us and without them we cannot run the show,” said S.C. Bansal, honorary general secretary for the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), that organizes matches at the Capital’s Feroz Shah Kotla ground. “Otherwise, they will bill us for their services.”
Bansal said less than 10,000 people watched Thursday’s crucial match between South Africa vs West Indies from the stands at the Kotla because DDCA could not issue complimentary tickets due to a court order.
On Wednesday, the Delhi high court passed a ruling asking DDCA to restrict free passes for the four World Cup matches it’s holding to 10,000 each. Justice Sunil Gaur asked DDCA to sell the other complimentary tickets to the public.
The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) isn’t constrained by any such court order and will start doling out free passes to government officials and others in the coming weeks.
“You have to give complimentary passes to every government department” that assists in organizing the matches, said K.S. Viswanathan, TNCA honorary secretary. “It’s the same story with every (cricket) association.”
TNCA is selling only about 13,000 tickets to the public out of the 37,000 it could for the India-West Indies tie to be played at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on 20 March.
To be sure, the International Cricket Council (ICC), too, gets its share of tickets, around 5,000 to 6,000 for each match, but it pays for these.
On Thursday, a letter from ICC to cricket World Cup organizing committee chairman Sharad Pawar was leaked, airing “serious concerns” over distribution and sales of tickets for the tournament.
The ability of the local boards to sell more tickets is also hampered by commitments to cricketing bodies, said an official at the Karnataka State Cricket Association.
“We have commitment to Calcutta (the Cricket Association of Bengal), we have commitment to ICC, BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India),” said former fast bowler and honorary secretary of the association, Javagal Srinath.
Sunday’s match was originally scheduled for Kolkata but moved to Bangalore after it became clear that the iconic Eden Gardens stadium in the city wouldn’t be ready for the game.
The situation is not only restricted to India. Bangladesh gave away 16,000 tickets of the 25,000 available to local government officials, top officials from cricket boards, dignitaries and schoolchildren for the inaugural match between India and Bangladesh on 19 February.
Abhilasha Ojha and AFP’s Indranil Mukherjee contributed to the story.