The tickets are sold out. Stadiums are 25% empty. That is a sad tale adding to the questions on hosting of one of the biggest events in India’s sporting history. The genuine sports lover is deprived of an opportunity to catch the action live. The ones obliged with free access to the stadium due to their privileged positions keep sitting on the “complementary” tickets. Stadiums present a disappointing spectacle of empty seats.
The Indian Football supremo says this being the FIFA tournament; all ticket had to be put on sale. His team responds otherwise- that various partners and associates get their share of “complementary” tickets.
Prior to India’s opening match against the United States of America on October 6, the LOC and the government have claimed that all the tickets have been sold and the stadium in Delhi would be full. There were also reports that the government had blocked the sale of tickets early and reserved more than 26,000 seats for the school children. Still, there were empty seats in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium during the tournament opener.
Similar was the condition in Goa and Kochi stadium. Even as the official capacity for the Kochi stadium had been reduced to 29,000 due to security concerns, the Saturday’s clash between Spain and Brazil only had just over 21,000 fans, almost 8,000 less than the official, reduced capacity. Despite the claims that all tickets are sold out.
Similarly, in Goa, despite tickets being ‘sold out, the 12,329 f in attendance for the Germany-Costa Rica and Iran-Guinea games were far below the official capacity of the Stadium. This leads to questions about how many tickets had actually gone on sale?
The under-fire LOC of the FIFA U-17 tournament after such reports had to issue a statement regarding the ticket sales and empty stands. “All the tickets that have been put up for sale are the maximum number of tickets that can be sold at each venue discounting below mentioned commitments. When a venue appears sold out, it reflects the position of tickets that have been put out for sale,” LOC said in the statement, which is in sharp contradiction of the AIFF chief Praful Patel’s earlier claims that this being a FIFA tournament “all the tickets had to be put on sale”.
“Discounting the contractual obligations with the Hosting Association, all the participating teams, all the 13 commercial partners of the Tournament, the host broadcaster, the signatories of host city, stadium and training site agreements and other stakeholders with which there are contracts with regards to the Tournament, to provide tickets,” the statement added.
This statement is evident that although the AIFF President had said otherwise, the “complementary” passes to the promoters and VIPs have been handed out in numbers. And while the privileged are keeping their hands on the tickets, the empty stands are a saga of deprived fans that were not able to get hold of the passes on sale.