Thursday, February 24, 2011

Indian police beat cricket fans

24 February 2011 Last updated at 10:34 GMT The crowd grew angry over the prolonged wait for tickets

Fans queuing outside the Chinnaswamy stadium in the Indian city of Bangalore to buy tickets for the cricket World Cup have clashed with police.

Television pictures showed policemen hitting dozens of fans on their legs and backs.

Many of the fans had been waiting since Wednesday night. Reports said they were angered by the shortage of tickets available for purchase at the venue.

Bangalore is to host Sunday's World Cup showdown between India and England.

According to reports, barely 8,000 tickets are up for sale at the stadium which can accommodate 40,000 people.

The BBC's Alison Mitchell, who is in Bangalore, says that there were chaotic scenes on Thursday - tickets for the match were on sale from early in the morning and people started queuing the night before.

An Indian policeman uses a bamboo stick to beat back cricket fans outside Bangalore's Chinnaswamy stadium on 24 February 2011 There were chaotic scenes as the police struggled to restore order

Our correspondent says that the queues snaked around stadium, holding up traffic on a busy road outside.

Police used batons to control them and unconfirmed reports say that some suffered serious injuries in crushes by the ticket booths.

When the available tickets sold out in two-and-a-half hours, thousands of fans were disappointed, although the crowd dispersed quickly.


The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi says that ticket sales have been a huge problem for the organisers - only a few thousand tickets are available for the general public because the bulk of them have been given away to sponsors and commercial partners.

The match was originally scheduled to be held in Calcutta's Eden Gardens but was later moved to Bangalore after the International Cricket Council (ICC) said it was with unhappy with the preparations.

The ICC has now written to the Indian organisers of the World Cup complaining about mishandling of ticket sales and distribution.

On Monday, an official website selling tickets for the final crashed after millions of people tried to log on. Many others who had bought tickets online up to six months ago are still to receive them.

The clashes on Thursday are the latest mishap to hit India's World Cup arrangements.

Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium, the venue for the final, was only given clearance to host matches by the city's fire department earlier this week.

England fans were strongly critical when news of the venue change to Bangalore first emerged earlier this month. Many complained that they had been left out of pocket.

The 27 February showdown with India was switched to the city after it was ruled that Calcutta's iconic Eden Gardens would not be ready in time.

"They'd bought tickets, booked flights and accommodation and now it has been pulled last minute," England supporter Paul Burnham told the BBC at the time of the switch.

The match between 1983 champions India and three-time runners-up England at Eden Gardens was to be one of the highlights of the month-long World Cup group stage, with tickets first going on sale last June.

The ground, which held 90,000 people before its recent renovation, is a place of pilgrimage for international cricketers and fans, having first hosted a Test in 1934 and staged the 1987 World Cup final when Australia beat England.

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