Football fever grips Tihar inmates | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Football fever grips Tihar inmates

On Friday, at around 8 pm, an unusual silence at the nine central jails in the Tihar prison complex was broken intermittently by shouts of "yes, go, go" and "goal". The ongoing Football World Cup has made Tihar jail, which houses around 450 inmates belonging to 45 nationalities and around 11, 000 Indians, tweak a few rules to let the football fever grip the complex spread over 400 acres. Abhishek Sharan reports.

delhi Updated: Jun 25, 2010 23:47 IST
Abhishek Sharan

On Friday, at around 8 pm, an unusual silence at the nine central jails in the Tihar prison complex was broken intermittently by shouts of "yes, go, go" and "goal".

The ongoing Football World Cup has made Tihar jail, which houses around 450 inmates belonging to 45 nationalities and around 11, 000 Indians, tweak a few rules to let the football fever grip the complex spread over 400 acres. The jail administration, acknowledging pleas from its foreign-origin inmates, especially Nigerians, South Africans, English, Americans and French, have allowed all the inmates to watch live matches between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. Normally they are allowed to watch television till 10 p.m.

"Before the football World Cup started, the foreign-origin inmates kept requesting their respective jail superintendents to be allowed to watch the matches live on TV. We have allowed them to watch till 11 pm, but not beyond that," Tihar jail's spokesperson Sunil Gupta told HT.

"As a special gesture from the jail administration, the inmates," said Gupta, "have also been allowed to play football in the evening within the jail premises.

Otherwise, football is banned in Tihar jail because of the fights during matches." According to a drug convict from Nigeria, Emmanuel Alfred, who is lodged in a Tihar sub-jail, "There is huge support for Brazil and Argentina among the foreigners in Tihar."

The jail administration has instructed all the sewadars, senior inmates chosen to represent a barrack by its inmates, to make sure no squabble erupts while the matches are on. "The sewadars ensure that between 7 pm and 11 pm, only the football World cup is watched," said Alfred.