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A night of fear and opportunity

Atif Azam

Ecstatic Bangladesh fans cheer up their team with the national flag during the final of the Micromix Asia Cup match against Pakistan at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on Thursday. — New Age photo  Ecstatic Bangladesh fans cheer up their team with the national flag during the final of the Micromix Asia Cup match against Pakistan at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on Thursday. — New Age photo

The night before the Asia Cup final came with both fear and opportunity for the officials of the Bangladesh Cricket Board, who allegedly did brisk business by selling tickets through their staff but were held hostage by the political hoodlums.
An influential director of the BCB came under fire from student and youth wings of the ruling political party who had asked for a basketful tickets as the hosts earned the right to play in the Asia Cup final for the first time in the tournament’s history.
Dewan Shafiul Arefin, convener of the tournament’s local organising committee, could not leave his office until 3:00am as dozens of political activists had been roaming in the BCB corridor waiting to get tickets. 
City Bank was authorised to sell the tickets of the Asia Cup and it was also announced earlier that only the Pallabi branch of the bank will be selling the tickets after March 8.
According to City Bank’s Pallabi brach manager Raizur Rahman, the tickets for the final match were withdrawn on March 11 on the approval of Arefin and they had no tickets left at their branch.
If the ruling party activists’ behaviour was not bad enough, a few officials of different ministry came to the board on Wednesday evening to place their demand for tickets before the officials.
The members of the parliamentary standing committees and top bureaucrats all made formal and informal request for tickets, which by then turned into a golden deer.
Everyone in and around the board had only one topic to talk about before the start of the historic final and it was whether it was possible to get a ticket.
It was learnt that several members and directors of the BCB had been involved in ticket touting to earn a few quick bucks out of nothing.
Several witnesses within the board confirmed that the board officials engaged their clerks and car drivers in this business.
The actual buyers received the tickets after they had changed three hands as the board members gave these to the clerks-drivers to sell to the black marketeers at a higher price.
In the morning, a ticket of the gallery worth Tk 200 was sold for Tk 3,000 while a Club House ticket worth Tk 600 was sold for Tk 6,000. The Grand Stand tickets were sold for Tk 15,000 each.
It was also seen that a member of the ticketing and seating committee was directly selling the tickets just before the start of the game.
Syed, Rubel and Maruf were amongst the car drivers of the officials who were seen selling the tickets. Officials also allegedly engaged the driver of coach Stuart Law, chief curator Gamini De Silva in the racket.
A few ticket touts were caught red-handed by the police, but after many calls from the BCB higher authority they were released but the police confiscated the tickets.




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