World Cup organisers have launched a stinging attack on Indian officials over ticketing chaos that triggered violence clashes between police and fans outside a stadium on Thursday.
Police wielding bamboo canes struggled to control huge crowds who swarmed to buy tickets in Bangalore, with thousands of cricket fans crushed up against the gates outside the Chinnaswamy ground.
A letter from the International Cricket Council (ICC) to organising committee chairman Sharad Pawar was leaked early Thursday airing “serious concerns” over distribution and sales of tickets.
There was particular concern over plans to sell the remaining 4,000 tickets available for the April 2 final in Mumbai over the counter.
“With the significant demand and little availability… there is potential for chaos and physical injury when the box office sales open,” the ICC warned. “For this reason we strongly recommend that this sale of tickets be cancelled.”
The ICC’s worst fears were quickly realised when fans pushed towards the stadium in Bangalore to try to purchase tickets for the India v England game on Sunday.
Crowd barricades were pushed over and several injured people were taken away on stretchers as police attempted to keep order, an AFP reporter witnessed.
The ICC told Pawar in the letter that issues surrounding distribution of tickets “had now reached critical status and require your immediate intervention.”
It said Kyazoonga, the official ticketing company, had not been given printed tickets in time to deliver them to customers.
“We have received many complaints from fans who purchased tickets but are yet to receive them despite having paid for these tickets more than six months ago,” David Becker, head of legal at the ICC, wrote in the letter.
“Apart from the threat of claims for compensation from these customers, this is causing a significant public relations issue for the ICC.”
It also complained that the website crashed when tickets for the final went on sale, and that the ICC’s commercial partners had received none of their promised tickets for venues including the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai.
“This is placing our sound relationships at breaking point and it is highly likely that some or all of them will seek compensation,” it warned.
India’s organisation of the World Cup has been severely criticised since it admitted the iconic Eden Gardens stadium in Kolkata would not be ready for the high-profile match between England and India on Sunday.
The game was moved to Bangalore, causing major inconvenience for England’s famous “Barmy Army” of travelling supporters.
India also attracted widespread criticism for its poor preparations and delayed construction of venues for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi last October.