Officials apologize for ticket chaos

Cricket fans jostle to maintain their position after a minor stampede in a queue for tickets at the M.Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, on February 24, ahead of the Cricket World Cup match between India and England. All 7,000 tickets put on sale sold out within hours, leaving many disappointed fans who had waited at the ground overnight.

Bangalore: Feb 25, 2011

Indian cricket chiefs apologised to thousands of fans left short-changed by the World Cup’s deepening ticket chaos while firing a broadside at the sport’s international rulers.

Tournament director Ratnakar Shetty, who is also the chief administrative officer of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), on Friday admitted fans had been let down. However, he said contractual obligations had complicated ticket distribution.

“We are sorry the fans have been let down,” said Shetty. “We understand their sentiments but we can’t do much.”

On Thursday, the situation boiled over when baton-wielding police clashed with thousands of fans queueing to buy tickets for Sunday’s high-profile clash between India and England at Bangalore’s M. Chinnaswamy stadium. Several people were injured as police attempted to keep order among the throng estimated to be 30,000-strong.

All 7,000 tickets put on sale sold out within hours, leaving many disappointed fans who had waited at the ground overnight. The violence came as the International Cricket Council (ICC) expressed its concerns that the squeeze on tickets and delays in delivery were pushing its relationship with its powerful commercial backers to breaking point.

The ICC’s head of legal David Becker had written to its own president, Sharad Pawar, who is also the chairman of the World Cup organising committee, demanding a solution be found.

One of their major worries is the system to sell the remaining 4,000 tickets for the April 2 final at Mumbai’s compact Wankhede stadium over the counter.

“We are unhappy with Becker s letter. It is totally uncalled for. The Wankhede Stadium was only officially approved as the venue for the final on January 27 and it takes some time for the ticketing prices to be completed. You cannot expect tickets to be made ready beforehand,” Shetty said.

The choice of Mumbai for the final has been controversial as it only has a 33,000 capacity with 20,000 tickets going to clubs linked to the Mumbai Cricket Association and 8,500 to the ICC.

Fans have complained that supporters have been squeezed out and questioned why Kolkata’s Eden Gardens, with a 65,000-capacity, was not named as the venue for the showpiece occasion.