Sanjeev Saha, 28, had bunked office to collect match tickets of the Kolkata derby. He had started his journey from his hometown in Ghatal, a small sub-division town about 100 km from Kolkata, at 5 AM just so that he can witness the potential league decider live from the stadium.
When he reached Mohun Bagan club tent around 9 a.m, he found that people have already started queuing up in front of ticket counters. But to his dismay he found that the mounted police force was dispersing the crowd and informing that all offline tickets had been sold out.
The Indian Football Association (IFA) had sent out a notification in the newspapers that tickets will be dispensed from 2 PM at both the club tents. The fans who had booked their tickets via the internet were instructed to redeem them at various box-offices from 11 AM.
"I don't have a debit or credit card. How can I book online? I decided to bunk office because I knew that if I came after office hours I will not get the tickets. In spite of standing in a queue for more than three hours, we are being told that tickets are sold out and this is only the second day. How is this possible? IFA is to be blamed for all this," said an infuriated Saha.
Around 300-400 Mohun Bagan supporters blocked Gostho Paul Sarani in protest for about 20 minutes until they were dispersed by the police. Similar scenes were witnessed in front of Vivekananda Yuvabharati Krirangan (VYBK) as well where angry fans decided to halt traffic until offline tickets were made available once again. A police force from Bidhannagar police station arrived on the spot and the protestors were dispersed.
At 3 PM, a handful of tickets were finally made available but they were sold out within 40 minutes. No tickets were available from the IFA office or from VYBK.
Hundreds of fans who had come from far-flung districts had to go back disappointed. "In spite of waiting for five-to-six hours, I have to return empty-handed. This is just not acceptable. IFA is not capable of organising a match of this calibre," said a Bagan fan.
The Kolkata derby remains the most attended fixture in Indian football and this tie has gained more importance this season as both Mohun Bagan and East Bengal are tied on points in the league table. Whoever emerges victorious will have one hand on the trophy.