Huge pre-booking registered for FIFA U-17 World Cup semi-final

Kolkata: The rush for tickets for the upcoming Brazil-England FIFA Under-17 World Cup semi-final tie that was shifted to Kolkata from Guwahati, on Monday has registered over 20,000 pre bookings in the online queue over an hour prior to the start of e-ticket sales.

The game, originally slated to be held at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati, would now be held on the scheduled day at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati krirangan here.

World football’s governing body FIFA on Monday said the venue was shifted after a thorough assessment of the pitch conditions at Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, which has been affected by severe rainfall over the past few days.

As per the announcement by FIFA, the online purchase of tickets was scheduled to start at 8.30 pm.

Soon after the announcement about the change in venue and online ticket sales at around 6 pm, the fans in the football crazy city made a beeline for the ticketing section of the official website FIFA.com.

“Around 7. 15 pm, there are already around 20,000 people in the queue,” said FIFA Local Organising Committee (LOC) project director Joy Bhattacharjya.

The flat rate of tickets is Rs 100.

FIFA has also announced that while fans who had purchased tickets for the Guwahati encounter would be entitled for a refund, they “will also have priority access to purchase tickets for the Kolkata semi-final”.

The fans eager to come to Kolkata have been advised to carry online proof of purchase to the dedicated ticket counter for Guwahati customers, and buy a ticket.

“Around 17,500 tickets were sold to the public in Guwahati. We have kept provision for those who wish to come to Kolkata to watch the game. They won’t face any problems,” said Bhattacharjya.

He said because of the short time available, efforts were being made to open as many counters as possible for redemption of online tickets.

“We are in talks with the West Bengal government. They are pro-actively helping us,” Bhattacharjya said during the joint media meet with state Sports Minister Aroop Biswas.

The LOC and the state government held a three-hour long meeting on various logistics after it was decided to shift the venue.

“The sort of craze we are seeing, it seems selling the tickets would not pose any problem. We are more concerned with giving a large number of options to the fans to redeem the tickets,” he said.