Angry World Cup cricket fans clash with police in India

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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.

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.

Image caption,
There were chaotic scenes as the police struggled to restore order

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.

Karnataka State Cricket Association Secretary Javagal Srinath said that he had no regrets about the match being switched to Bangalore despite the disturbances.

"There were 7,000 tickets that were issued for sale today," he said.

"Also, we had to honour the Calcutta commitment. So in total we had 15,000 tickets available for sale through the gate.

"We are trying to cover as much as possible. But for a match of this magnitude, even if you double or triple [the capacity], it's not enough."

'Sporadic incident'

Bangalore police chief Shankar Bidari dismissed the trouble as a "minor thing" and insisted his force was well prepared to ensure that World Cup encounter went ahead smoothly.

Mr Bidari said that no-one was hurt in the incident and that police only attempted to regulate an unruly section of a crowd numbering more than 20,000 people outside the stadium.

"They were jostling with each other. We had to use mild force to make sure that people did not fall over each other and injure themselves," he said.

"It was a sporadic incident and the situation was brought under control within three to four minutes."

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

Image caption,
Police said that the disturbance was quickly dealt with

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 have still not received 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.

Eden Gardens, 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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