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5 great off-the-field incidents at the India vs UAE game in Delhi.

India vs UAE was an absolute joke of a game. It was raining “cats and dogs”, and in an open stadium, half the people present (Including me) messed up their phones. Half the tickets sold out before game day. Many saw the game live on tv. Now heres what they didnt see.

A line a mile long.
Fans started reaching the stadium by 3. By four, the number was quite large. By five, it was absolute madness. 20,000 fans trying to get in to the stadium. All of them standing on a small footpath. Then, the inevitable finally happened as they spilled on to the road. Then in an attempt to control the crowd, the police brought them back on the footpath and once that happened, well you can see for yourself just how long the line was.

The line at Gate Number 7 of the Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi.

Tight security
The security at the stadium was tight, so tight in fact that when the game began, and the sheikh’s from the UAE embassy flooded the stadium, the lady in-charge was literally sending out SOS calls as the crowd was getting hard to control. Then, the complimentary ticket holders were allowed to go in, but a senior AIFF official was denied entry. Ironic?

Enterprising businessmen.
Before kick-off, a few entrepreneurs made a lot of money. Blackie’s had reached the stadium and were to be found near the parking some distance away. 100 rupee tickets were being sold for 150, while the 30 rupee ones were going for 50.
It wasnt only the scalpers who had a good day. “Panvaari’s” had positioned themselves at suitable intervals selling cigarettes and tobacco, to make sure that it wasnt a smoke free zone.

20,ooo Saurav Ganguly’s!
A style of celebration made popular in 2002 by the then Indian Cricket captain Saurav Ganguly, it was fun to see all then Indian football fans doing the same when India scored their first and second goals. Indians, who are known to be one of the most reserved race’s of people, took of their t-shirts and were waving them crazily to show their support and passion for the beautiful game.

Passionate fans at the India-UAE game at the Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi

The Fans!
The fans were spectacular. Indian, British, Spanish and even African. They were all supporting India. They really got behind the team with their chants, singing and dancing, ooooh’ing and BOOO’ing. It was a capacity crowd at the Ambedkar Stadium and that played in the hosts favour. The songs for the Bhangra Boys started with the fan favourites, “India!India!”, “Bharat Mata Ki…JAI!”, and then went on to some new ones like “1,2,3,4! We want one more!” Even the police were appreciated for their efforts with the “Sabka yahi Naara hai! Dilli Police hamara hai!” These were all the positive ones reserved for the Indians. The ones for the Arabs went along the lines of “Cheater! Cheater!”, “F*** You!F*** You” other hindi variations of these words. All in all, “paisa vasool!”

Full house for the India vs UAE game at the Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi.

Shifting the game to the Ambedkar proved to be a masterstroke by the AIFF , as the JLN would have been much harder to manage for the police and the fact that field is quite far from the stands.

When the game finished, i finally realised that on a rainy monsoon night, Delhi had witnessed one of its most entertaining games of football in a long time!

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