The Indian Football Association (IFA), the governing body of football in the state of West Bengal has been an antagonist in many incidents over the last few years due to rampant complacency and inefficiency in the administration of footballing events across the state. The decades old football association made its way to the Headlines of Bengali Media, when they, along with East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, showed immense laxity over the sale of tickets of the upcoming Kolkata Derby (on 2nd September 2018) with fair means resulting in severe anguish among the supporters of the two clubs.
It all started when IFA, despite declaring that the tickets would go on sale on 28th August 2018, failed to open the counters on Tuesday citing issues of lack of stamps to issue the tickets. Fans travelled from miles out to the centre of the city, only to return home empty-handed on the first day of the comical series of events. IFA announced the same day that tickets would be on sale on 30th August, Thursday.
Fans flocked in thousands to the streets at East Bengal Club, Mohun Bagan Club, IFA office and the Salt Lake Stadium counters to get their hands on the tickets. However, fans were in for a shock when they were informed that all the offline tickets were sold within a span of few hours. Hundreds of supporters lined up early in the morning at 9 AM but failed to get the tickets even after staying till 6 in the evening around the Club Premises.
The Clubs began issuing a maximum of 10 tickets to the fans but as the day went on, the officials realised there is a possible slack of tickets. A unanimous decision was taken by the officials to issue only one ticket per person. Men and Women who lined up to get tickets for their co-workers, friends and relatives were devastated in failing to get the desired number of tickets even after being in the queue for several hours.
Chaos took over as fans were informed that even the online ticket redemption centres were facing server issues resulting in the issuance of incorrect tickets of different stands as to the booked itineraries produced by the fans at the counters.
Though the announcement from the IFA stated that tickets were sold out, the fans made their way to all the possible selling counters at the Maidan and the Salt Lake Stadium hoping to get the tickets on Friday (31st August 2018). The fans were informed that tickets would be put back on sale from 2 PM to 7 PM at the East Bengal and Mohun Bagan club tents.
Fans lined up in countless numbers from 10 in the morning. The counters finally opened at 5 PM with a delay of 3 long hours. In addition to the chaos, the weather over Maidan was extremely damp and overcast. Torrential rains made things even more difficult for the fans.
More pandemonium was in store for the fans as only a few hundreds who stood in the queues from the morning got the tickets while the others were left out with the only option of buying the expensive tickets amounting to Rs.500.
Fans revolted in front of the Mohun Bagan Club infuriated by the sheer carelessness shown by IFA and the clubs, resulting in the Kolkata Police resorting to lathi charge to disperse the aggrieved Mohun Bagan supporters. A handful of fans were also injured in the Police clash.
Kolkata based reports suggest that IFA allotted 7,500 tickets to both the clubs while 10,000 tickets were up for sale on Kyazoonga on the web. 8000 tickets were kept by IFA for sale to the members and the officials of the Governing Body of football in the state.
With 66,000 tickets allegedly up for sale, only 33,000 tickets satisfy the equation circulating around the Media. Such shortage of tickets has allowed tickets to be sold in the Back Market at excessive prices. Tickets originally slated to be sold off at Rs.100 are now being sold at prices as high as Rs.2000. Adding to it, several fans have got tickets of the rival stands at the online redemption centre, making it extremely dangerous for the fans as violence in the stands can break out in no time during the game.
Fans are unsure about the status of the tickets being sold. It is now to be seen if the iconic Yuva Bharati Krirangan is filled to its brim as IFA claimed or the sheer complacency shown by IFA results in a sparse turnout.