Indian Fans With Valid Tickets Denied Entry To World Cup Qualifiers In Qatar

Updated: 11 September 2019 18:52 IST

After the match, hundreds of Indian fans launched celebrations but some of the sparkle of India's achievement was lost following chaotic scenes as visiting fans struggled to enter the stadium.

Indian Fans With Valid Tickets Denied Entry To World Cup Qualifiers In Qatar
Indian fans chanted and held up tickets while a phalanx of Qatari security held them back. © AFP

The Indian football team on Tuesday registered one of the most remarkable results in recent times as they held the Asian Champions Qatar to a goal-less draw in the World Cup 2022 Qualifiers in Doha. The presence of Indian fans inside the stadium made the atmosphere electric. After the match, captain Gurpreet Singh Sandhu thanked the fans for coming to the match in large numbers. Sandhu, who wore the captain's armband on the night, even called the Indian fans the "pillar of strength".

After the match, hundreds of Indian fans launched celebrations but some of the sparkle of India's achievement was lost following chaotic scenes as visiting fans struggled to enter the stadium.

There was jostling outside the South Stand around 10 minutes after kick-off when a crowd of several hundred Indian fans chanted and held up tickets while a phalanx of Qatari security held them back.

"What a shambles," said a British football fan who was also unable to enter the ground "even with a ticket".

"What a unique way to do it," he said, noting that his group's tickets had been issued without gate numbers.

Security officers had increasingly heated exchanges with fans stuck outside but able to clearly hear the drama unfolding inside.

Nearby, hundreds of others snaked around the car park.

At half-time a surge of several hundred Indian fans attempted to bypass security and ticket control and rush through two of the stadium gates.

The automatic doors were closed and the situation was brought quickly under control.

"If they can't handle the crowd they shouldn't give the tickets," said a 24-year-old Indian migrant worker who had a ticket and was refused entry.

"We are working day and night in the heat, we are paying our money and we have our tickets," he added, declining to be named as Qatari officials reinforced barriers around the area.

"If they are doing this at a (lower-profile) match, how will they handle a World Cup match?

"We all live here, if foreigners are here how will they handle it?"

This led some Indian fans to complain that they were allocated just eight percent of tickets to Tuesday's game -- the minimum quota permitted by international football rules.

The 15,000-capacity Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium will not be used for the World Cup in 2022.

FIFA, contacted by AFP, referred questions to the Qatar Football Association who did not respond to requests for comment.

"It's a bit of a disaster," said another British football fan based in Qatar who had travelled to Doha's western suburb of Al Sadd to watch the match.

Despite the disappointment of Indian fans forced to watch the action on a screen set up in the car park, there were jubilant scenes inside the stadium following the upset draw.

Away fans chanted in unison and waved India's flag as the team toured the ground that is home to Qatar's domestic Al Sadd team.

India coach Igor Stimac highlighted the gulf between his team's modest facilities and the lavish infrastructure enjoyed by Qatar as he warned his players to keep their heads down following the surprise result.

"We have two stopwatches and lots of willingness to learn everyday," he said at the post-match press briefing.

The area around the stadium was quiet following the match however with the crowd dispersing quickly and calmly.

(With AFP inputs)

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Topics mentioned in this article India Football Team India Gurpreet Singh Football
Highlights
  • Several Indian fans with valid tickets were denied entry to the stadium
  • Security officers had increasingly heated exchanges with fans
  • At half-time a surge of Indian fans attempted to bypass security
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