Chaos and mismanagement were the talking points on a day when Indian hockey began its journey to regain past glory by sealing a London Olympic Games berth.
Sunday was expected to be a full house at the National Stadium, but, unfortunately, for the fans thronging the venue, they felt exhausted — and cheated — even before they could enter the venue.
While Hockey India (HI) had, on Saturday, slashed the price of Rs 300 tickets to Rs 10 for school and college students, it hiked the price of tickets for the common man by R100 for seats behind the goalposts.
If that was not enough, the federation, which had announced that the Rs 500 tickets would be available for R100 for state and Central government employees, doubled the price for the common man, who had to dish out Rs 1000 to sit opposite the grand stand.
A disgruntled fan, who had come with his family, told HT, “There was no intimation of the price hike.” A volunteer standing outside Gate No 5, said, “R300 and R500 tickets were for other days. But today is the final.”
Long queues for fans
But for those who were willing to dish out that kind of money, there were problems galore. With just one gate open for entry to the ticket counter, the queues got longer and fans had to wait for more than an hour to get to the window.
As the 8pm deadline approached and the crowd became restive --- and rumours circulated that tickets were being sold in black --- security personnel broke open the locks of another gate to allow the queues to move faster.
“This is not what I had expected. There is chaos everywhere,” said an elderly gentleman.
“Knowing that a rush was expected, the organisers should have made better arrangements. I wish I had watched the match on television,” said a young fan. Tired of the long wait, some fans ‘queued up’ to get the Tricolour painted on their faces, even as vendors made a quick buck.