Kolkata: Despite all the hype over Lionel Messi-led Argentina`s FIFA international friendly against Venezuela, the response has not been up to the mark with many tickets yet to be sold.
In fact, it will be an embarrassment of sorts for the organisers if the 120,000 capacity stadium remains unfilled despite the fact Messi, who is in prime form for Barcelona, will lead a full strength Argentinaside against Venezuela in an international FIFA fixture here on Friday.
Refusing to disclose the figures of ticket sales, the organisers Celebrity Management Group today confessed that response was not up to mark.
"We cannot say the exact figures but it`s not what we had expected. It could have been better. Here, everybody wants to see the match free," executive director of CMG, Bhaswar Goswami told reporters.
Goswami said they were not giving any free tickets and even the sports minister of West Bengal, Madan Mitra had to buy the entry passes.
"Even the Sports Minister bought about 200 tickets for his Sports Council. The match is happening in a stadium owned by the govnerment, yet the minister is buying tickets. Nobody is given free entry. You are most welcome, if you are ready to pay," he said.
Incidentally, Goswami himself had given figures of 42,000 ticket sales two days ago but it seemed going by the poor response he did not give the exact number.
In fact, 42,000 is a very small number for a stadium with a seating capacity of 120,000.
As per the data available in trhe official ticketing website, tickets of denominations INR 2060, INR 2470, INR 1550 and INR 1860 were still available, two days ahead of the match.
Sports minister Mitra blamed it on the high pricing of tickets.
"For a commoner in Bengal, the prices are not affordable. They have heeded to our request to lower the prices to INR 700 which are sold out. But we are not organising the match so we can`t pressurise them," said Mitra.
Going by the trend, it remains to be seen whether the stadium get a packed house on September 2.
But it was a different case when another Argentine Diego Maradona visited about three years back.
The iconic footballer did not play a match at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan yet it was a filled to the brim.
Even when he arrived in the midnight, thousands gathered at the airport in Albicelestes colours and flags to welcome the Argentine legend who is worshipped all over the football-crazy city here.