Lack of crowd for Asia Cup qualifiers disappoints Football legend Chhetri
Sunil Chhetri, a national football icon, expressed his disappointment that no tickets were sold to the general public for the Asian Cup Group D qualifiers, which will be held at the Salt Lake Stadium from June 8-14. He believes the Indian team will be deprived of home advantage at a time when it most needs it.
About 20,000 complimentary tickets were distributed, allowing the organizers to rent the stadium for free. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) would have had to pay roughly Rs 16 lakh per day if tickets were sold on the open market.
After nearly three years, the Indian squad would be playing in Kolkata, the country’s football capital, and Chhetri would have appreciated the support in his corner as he attempted to lead India to the continental championship.
“There were 38,000 spectators watching Mohun Bagan play at 4 p.m. (in the AFC Cup). Why is it so difficult to sell tickets (for kick-offs at 8.30 p.m.) when the national team is playing? In Mumbai, the same thing happened. I understand if there are no fans for the game. It’s always packed when the national team plays in Kerala, in the northeast. “It doesn’t make logic,” the seasoned marksman explained.
“I was anticipating 30,000 at the very least because they arrived for Mohun Bagan at 4 o’clock.” We’re thrilled to be hosting it (the tournament), but (with a low turnout) it wouldn’t matter. When we come here to play for Bengaluru FC against Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, we feel like we’re playing against an away team, and it’s daunting. As a result, they should fill (the stands), and we’ll be able to claim home advantage. What good is having home advantage if only 10,000-15,000 fans show up in a stadium with a capacity of nearly 90,000. We go to training, and there are a hundred people there, guy! So, I’m baffled as to how?,” he added.
He stated that Kolkata is one of the cities where the national team will receive strong support. The lack of attendance has been blamed on a lukewarm response to a competition comprising clubs from footballing backwaters, according to organizers. India is ranked 106th in FIFA, ahead of Hong Kong (147th), Afghanistan (150th), and Cambodia (160th) (171).
“Take a look at the teams that are competing and their rankings. Do you think the stadium will be packed with fans? “I don’t think more than 10,000 people will show there,” a former top AIFF official predicted.
The Salt Lake Stadium has a seating capacity of over 70,000 people.