Organisers forced into climbdown over missing fans

Published: Sunday, April 8, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Bridgetown (Barbados):World Cup organisers, widely accused of pricing local fans out of the tournament and for stifling atmosphere inside the grounds, have been forced into an embarrassing climbdown.

In a desperate attempt to salvage the World Cup's reputation as the event enters its final three weeks, fans will now be allowed to take musical instruments into grounds without first applying to the local organising committees.

In another move to try and cure the problem of matches being played in virtually empty stadiums, the controversial policy of no re-entry has also been abandoned.

Starting from Saturday's Bangladesh v South Africa Super Eights match in Guyana, spectators can turn up with their musical instruments and be given approval as they pass through security.

"Safety must be paramount at matches but we do want everyone to watch cricket in a festive and lively atmosphere," said World Cup chief executive Chris Dehring.

"This has already been happening at several matches. There were lots of people with bands and instruments and noise-makers in Jamaica and we have seen the same elsewhere, in Guyana and other venues.

"However, given the spontaneity of Caribbean people, its easier for them to bring instruments on match day - once they remain mindful of security regulations and the need to keep passageways and exits clear - and be permitted to enter the stadium."

Dehring also announced that starting from the Super Eights games in Barbados and Grenada next week, fans will be able to re-enter the grounds.

"As spectators leave the stadium they will be reminded to have their match ticket on them and will receive a device - yet to be determined by each local organising committee - which indicates that they have left the venue," said Dehring.

"When the spectators come back, they would first show both their match ticket and re-entry device and then go through the same security procedures as when they first entered the venue."

Australia skipper Ricky Ponting, whose team face Ireland in Barbados on April 13, and Sri Lanka and New Zealand in Grenada, on April 16 and 20 respectively, said he was happy at the prospect of seeing more fans in the grounds.

"I'm obviously looking forward to playing in front of a few more fans. That's what World Cups are all about as far as I'm concerned, playing in packed stadiums and playing some great cricket," said Ponting.

"We haven't had that yet in any of the games we've played so if allowing them (the fans) to bring instruments into the ground is going to make a few more turn out, than all well and good.

"If they do that, there will be a great atmosphere around the ground and there'll be a bit more of the Caribbean sort of flavour I guess that you are accustomed to playing in front of when you are over here."


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