Armed police in Bangladesh on Monday monitored long queues of frustrated cricket fans who have spent two days sleeping in the cold waiting to buy World Cup tickets. Scuffles broke out on Sunday in the capital Dhaka as police intervened to break up arguments between fans and staff at the 80 bank branches where the tickets are being sold. Slow sales triggered anger among the crowds, who also allege that the ticket allocation scheme is corrupt.
The World Cup, jointly hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, opens on February 19 in Dhaka with a highly-anticipated match between India and Bangladesh. Bangladesh’s national side have enjoyed a recent improvement in form and the chance to see them play at home against top-class opposition such as England, South Africa and the West Indies has generated huge interest. Some fans received minor injuries on Sunday as riot police dispersed demonstrations over the lengthy queues, while several cars and buses were smashed up by protesters. Thousands of fans, including many young girls, have been sleeping on the street wrapped in blankets.
“I have been here since Saturday morning. I could not get tickets on Sunday, but I haven’t left my spot or lost hope yet,” Prince Shikder, a businessman, told AFP outside a City Bank branch on Bagabandhu Avenue in central Dhaka. About 700 people slept overnight in the queue, drinking hot tea and eating street snacks. “We are afraid violence may flare up again today because bank officials are taking a long time to sell the tickets,” said Shimul Chanda, the sub-inspector in charge of police outside the branch. “Fans have told us that only 35 people received tickets on Sunday. Already some people have become fidgety this morning,” he said. The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) has set aside just 15,000 tickets per match for ordinary spectators. Bank officials said tickets for the opening match against India have already sold out.
“We have tickets for the remaining seven matches. But the fans must understand that the number of tickets available is limited,” Sukre Alam, the head of the Bagabandhu Avenue branch of City Bank, told AFP. But Bangladeshis remain desperate to see their team, captained by superstar all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, compete at home during the World Cup. “I have been in this queue since Sunday morning,” Milon Akhter, a 40-year-old mother who wanted seats for her two children, told AFP. “I won’t go home without the tickets.” afp – Dailytimes