Lorgat sorry for ticket chaos
Bangalore - International Cricket Council chief executive Haroon Lorgat on Saturday condemned the violent scenes amid the Cricket World Cup ticket fiasco which saw desperate fans baton-charged by police.
Lorgat, keen to rescue what has quickly become a public relations disaster, also apologised for a system that has left thousands of fans with no hope of seeing marquee matches.
The controversy over ticket distribution and availability, especially at Bangalore, where India play England on Sunday, as well as the April 2 final in Mumbai, has caused a rift between the world body and local organisers.
"What is unfortunate is that too few tickets go to the public as a general sale," admitted Lorgat.
"No matter what sort of capacity we provide, the truth is that we won't have enough seats for the demand that we have on our hands."
"The rush for the tickets is an indication of the popularity of the 50-over format and the passion fans, especially in India, have for the game of cricket," he added.
Fans in Bangalore, many of whom had queued overnight in the hope of securing one of 7,000 tickets for the India-England game, were baton-charged by police at Bangalore's M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Thursday.
"Those are scenes that we would not like to see. None of us would like to see that," Lorgat said.
The choice of Mumbai for the final has been controversial as the Wankhede Stadium 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.
The remaining tickets, around 4 000, will be sold to the general public.
But Lorgat tried to reassure fans that reserved tickets not taken up by sponsors or guests for the semi-finals and the final would be offered to the public.
"We have decided to sell all the unused leased tickets through a ballot system for future matches - especially semi-finals and finals - to be much fairer," he said.
Hundreds of unused tickets for Sunday's India-England game, which was switched from Kolkata to Bangalore, were due to be sold online later Saturday to help ease the strain.
"Unused tickets are coming to us in batches of 50-100 and in some cases 200-250 from the ICC. They will not be sold over the counter," said Karnataka State Cricket Association secretary and former Indian paceman Javagal Srinath.
The capacity of the Bangalore stadium is 38 000, but around 30 000 seats are reserved for various cricket associations, tournament commercial partners and guests.
"Blocking of seats in such large numbers has been the practice over the last five decades for protocol reasons and due to other obligations," said Srinath.
"We need to change the system to increase the number of seats for die-hard fans of the game."