IND vs SL 2022-23, 3rd ODI: Kerala Sports Minister defends over comments of ticket rates following low turnout
IND vs SL 2022-23: The final Thiruvananthapuram ODI saw a low turnout from fans. While it was a dead rubber, the ticket rates for the match were high. However, Kerala Sports Minister has defended his comments on the rates.
In the wake of widespread criticism against Kerala Sports Minister V Abdurahiman over the poor turnout for the thirdIndia-Sri Lanka One-Day International (ODI) at the Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram, he defended himself on Monday citing a slew of reasons, including the low ranking of the opposing cricket team, for the stadium being half empty. The India-Sri Lanka cricket match on Sunday was played in a half-empty stadium, for which the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have blamed the Kerala Sports Minister's recent controversial comment on the ticket rates. At the same time, the ruling CPI(M) contended that he did not say anything wrong.
Abdurahiman said his comment regarding the ticket prices was misinterpreted and circulated by the media and some political opponents, probably intending to "whitewash" the real culprits and blame the government for the lack of spectators. In a lengthy Facebook post, the minister said that when the media sought his response regarding the high ticket rates, he had communicated that the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) probably did not want the poor to be able to watch the game.
However, it was misinterpreted as the minister saying that starving people should not watch the game and was widely circulated, he claimed. Amid criticism from various quarters that ticket rates for the ODI were exorbitant, Abdurahiman sparked a major controversy by saying, "What is the need for reducing the tax? The demand is that the country is witnessing a price rise, so the tax should be reduced. Those who are starving need not go to watch the match."
Abdurahiman said that the media was more interested in giving publicity to those blaming him for the drop in ticket sales and were not interested in the arguments between him and the government in favour of reducing ticket prices. The minister said that besides the high ticket rates, another reason for the poor turnout was that Sri Lanka was a weak opponent, ranked eighth in the International Cricket Council's ICC ODI Rankings, and its players needed to be better known.
Sri Lanka's performance in the match also indicated the team's quality; since it was a weak opponent, the crowd was less, he claimed. The other reasons he gave were -- the lack of interest in the third match, as India had already won the series, the hot weather, the incompetence of the organisers and ODIs do not attract crowds like the Twenty20 (T20).
Regarding the ticket pricing issue, the minister said that in other states where cricket matches were held in big metros, the lowest fare was in the range of ₹650 to ₹850. On the other hand, the KCA, without considering that, fixed high ticket prices for the match, he said. He also noted that the respective state cricket associations set ticket prices, and the government was only responsible for providing the facilities and systems required by the organisers.
The minister said the cricket association alleged that the high entertainment tax was why ticket prices went up, but the same was incorrect. According to the law, 24 to 50 per cent entertainment tax should be paid to the corporation for matches held at the stadium in Kariavattom here, but he said it was reduced to 12 per cent this time.
The minister said this was done to reduce ticket prices so everyone could watch the match. Abdurahiman said making allegations only against him and ignoring all the other reasons indicates something is amiss. Following the poor turnout for the game, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said: "People not turning up was a loss. It was not a loss for the Minister. He got some headlines. It was a loss to cricket and those who love the sport."
Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly VD Satheesan, too, laid the blame at the Minister's doorstep by saying that Abdurahiman ought not to have questioned the self-esteem of Malayalis with his remark. BJP state president K Surendran criticised the minister by saying his statement was an "insult" to sports lovers.
(With inputs from PTI)