Fans fume after $2.72 semi-final tickets sell out

Wednesday, 23 March 2011 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal

COLOMBO, March 22 (Reuters) - Angry Sri Lankan fans criticised local organisers after tickets costing just $2.72 for a World Cup semi-final that could feature Kumar Sangakkara's men sold out in just 90 minutes on Tuesday.

Around 25,000 fans had queued up from the early hours of Tuesday morning outside the 35,000-capacity R Premadasa Stadium desperate to get their hands on a SLR 300 ticket for the March 29 semi-final, which will feature the co-hosts provided they beat England on Saturday.

"We were here since before dawn but now they say no more tickets are available. We can only get them on the black market and they cost above 2,500 rupees or 3,000 rupees," a 16-year old student, who identified himself only as Insan, told Reuters.

"(Sri Lanka) Cricket Board is responsible for this mess up. We come to watch a match because we love the game but we were unable to buy a ticket."

Demand of tickets for matches featuring the three co-hosts, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, have far outstripped supply.

Last month the official online ticket website crashed due to 10 million people chasing just 1,000 tickets for the April 2 final in Mumbai.

While supporters clashed with police in Indian cities when tickets sold out in various stadium box offices, in Sri Lanka Reuters witness said there was heavy security presence around the venue and there were no reports of any violence.

Instead, the complaints were never ending.

"Most of the people who came here were businessmen who want to resell the tickets. Those were not cricket fans and real cricket fans could not get the tickets," a 49-year photographer named Wickramage said.

Sri Lanka's World Cup director Suraj Dandeniya said it was impossible to meet the demands of the cricket-loving public.

"We had to close the ticket counters within 1-1/2 hours as all the tickets were sold out," Dandeniya told Reuters.

"We sold only up to 9,500 tickets but there were around 25,000 people queued up for the tickets and, unlike earlier matches, we restricted one ticket per person."

The organising committee decided to sell 25,000 tickets to the public with a maximum price of SLR 7,500 per ticket.

The majority of tickets were priced at 300 rupees.