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Messi too costly for Bangladesh fans

Football fans in Bangladesh, one of the world's poorest countries, have reacted in fury over ticket prices set at a minimum of $100 (7,400 Bangladeshi Taka) to see superstar Lionel Messi lead out Argentina in a friendly.

sports Updated: Sep 05, 2011 23:24 IST
Bangladesh

Football fans in Bangladesh, one of the world's poorest countries, have reacted in fury over ticket prices set at a minimum of $100 (7,400 Bangladeshi Taka) to see superstar Lionel Messi lead out Argentina in a friendly.


The stylish South Americans, who have had a massive following in Bangladesh since the 1980s, will play in the capital Dhaka on Tuesday evening against Nigeria.


But only half of the tickets have so far been sold for the game - the biggest football match in the country's history - with many fans unable to afford the entry price.

Passion for the game runs deep in Bangladesh. During the football World Cup last year, the country was covered in Argentinian and Brazilian flags.

But minimum ticket prices of 7,400 Taka and the expense of Eid celebrations last week marking the end of Ramadan could leave rows of empty seats at the 24,000-capacity Bangabandhu National Stadium.

“It's a ridiculous price. They don't want real soccer fans to watch Messi's match. I earn just 8,000 taka per month. How can I afford a ticket?” Rajib Ahmed, 25, a chemical tester at a private company, told AFP outside the ground.

"I saved some money and bought a ticket for Monday's practice session. It costs 1,000 taka, which is still too much. I just want to see Messi in action. He is the best player on earth," Ahmed said.

Like many Bangladeshis, Rajib's love of Argentina is rooted in the team's glorious past. "Our family has been supporting the side since the heyday of (Diego) Maradona," he said. "We would have bought tickets for the match had they lowered the price to perhaps 2,000 taka."

Head of the organising committee Anwarul Haq Helal said, “If you want to see Messi play, there is some cost. We have sold only 50 percent of the tickets at the moment. We did not expect this.”