Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, venue for the Cricket World Cup final but criticized last week by the city’s top fire chief for not meeting safety standards, finally got clearance to host matches on Tuesday.
“We have given NOC [no objection certificate] to the stadium. They have fulfilled all the fire safety norms at the stadium,” deputy chief fire officer A.N. Shinde told the Press Trust of India after inspecting the 33,000-seat stadium.
Last week safety inspectors were unhappy that mandatory fire equipment, including water hydrants, no-smoking indicators, alarms and extinguishers were still not in place.
“We have given them the compliance certificate. They can host matches. The stadium is safe and secure,” Shinde added.
Wankhede will stage the April 2 final as well as two group stage matches on March 13 and March 18.
While the venue is cleared for the final, getting tickets for could be another matter.
Tickets for the Cricket World Cup final will be sold via a ballot after the official Web site crashed under the pressure of huge traffic.
“There will be a ballot and we’re working with the BCCI [Board of Control for Cricket in India] and our official online ticket agents Kyazoonga to finalize all the details. They will still be sold via the Web site,” an International Cricket Council (ICC) spokesman said.
Not a single ticket for the April 2 final to be held at the Wankhede Stadium was sold to the public after the official Web site went into meltdown on Monday, sparking furious complaints from fans.
“We apologize to anyone who was trying to get on, but these are exceptional circumstances when 10 million people were trying to get on the Web site at one time,” the ICC spokesman said on Tuesday. “They [Kyazoonga] were working throughout the night to get it up and running and not one ticket has been sold from the quota we had.”
Of the 33,000 seats at the Wankhede, around 4,000 are available to the public — 1,000 online and another 3,000 will be sold later for those who line up at stadium box offices. The rest are to be distributed among the ICC and clubs affiliated with the Mumbai Cricket Association.
On Tuesday morning, the Web site was back up and at first glance it looked as if all the tickets had sold out since those matches were not showing up on the “tickets for sale” schedule.
However, a small message tucked on one side of the Web site trumpeted: “And we’re back! All semis and finals tickets that are to go up on sale here are intact. Please stay tuned for further updates.”
Fans continued to bombard the online ticket agency’s Facebook page with angry comments for the second day running.
“These guys have not done squat and no update...wow..what a bunch of bufoons [sic],” Ibaad Lari posted from Pakistan.
Another enraged fan, Rishi Dave, added: “I freakin woke up in the middle of my sleep to check if the site was working or not. since me being on Australian time i also checked the website when most of you were sleeping, BUT same as before wudnt [sic] do anything.”
“You guys are lucky you can go queue at stadium ! ... i took day off to book these tickets for final and i cant get on the site !!!!” Sam Saleh wrote.
The ICC said it would reveal full details of the ballot as soon as they were finalized.
VIOLENT SONG BANNED
A World Cup song that carries threats against defending champions Australia as well as earthquake-hit New Zealand has been banned on orders of the Sri Lankan president.
The song warns that Ricky Ponting’s Australians will end up as bird food while New Zealanders, still reeling from the Christchurch quake, could have their jaws broken.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse heard the Sinhalese and Tamil mixed song and wanted it taken off all state-run radio and television channels, an official close to the president said.
He also censured sports authorities for allowing the “insulting” lyrics.
“The president was appalled that the song was allowed in the first place,” the official said. “He felt the song was in poor taste. What he wants is a song to inspire the team and fans and not insult other nations.”
The president saw a video clip of the song when he turned up to watch Sri Lanka play Canada at their opening game at Hambantota on Sunday when the home side won by 210 runs.
A Sri Lankan cricket official said the song was the initiative of a private company that was sponsoring the national team.
Ricky Ponting, the captain of World Cup holders Australia, is facing a charge for allegedly damaging a television set in the dressing room after he was dismissed during his side’s victory over Zimbabwe.
The ICC said yesterday that it had received a report on the incident from the Indian Board after it was sent to them by the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA), which oversees the sport in Ahmedabad where Monday’s game took place.
“We expect to make a decision later today about possible charges,” ICC spokesman James Fitzgerald said.
He said the report from the GCA had been forwarded to the ICC by the BCCI late on Tuesday.
The Australian team and the match referee were traveling yesterday, he added.
The GCA said that Ponting had damaged a television by throwing his glove at it following his run out for 28 in the 91-run victory over Zimbabwe after returning to the dressing room.
“We reported the incident to the BCCI yesterday. They must have lodged an official protest with the ICC,” GCA secretary Rajesh Patel said by telephone yesterday.
“Ponting did throw his gloves at the television. You can’t see any damage from outside, but when you switch it on, there is no picture on three-fourths of the screen,” he said. “We had to replace the television set.”
Ponting was criticized in the India media for the episode, but the Australian team spokesman Lachy Patterson said it had been overblown.
“Ricky threw his box [groin protector] into his bag and it flew up into a TV set,” spokesman Lachy Patterson was quoted as saying in the Australian newspaper. “It wasn’t smashed. There was a small blackout on one corner of the screen. It was still working when [it was] replaced.”
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