Hundreds of Nepali fans denied entry

- ADARSHA DHAKAL, DUBAI

Feb 2, 2019-

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has been given a food for thought while hosting Nepal’s away international matches after hundreds of supporters were unable to watch Nepal’s second Twenty20 International live from the ground on Friday.

Nepal are currently playing the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a three-match Twenty20 International series which preceded by a three-match One Day International (ODI) series. Nepal had registered their first ever ODI Series victory after winning the third ODI on January 28 at the ICC Academy Oval.

The ICC Academy Oval is also hosting the Twenty20 Internationals but it is not able to accommodate more than one thousand spectators. More than three thousand Nepali supporters had thronged the Oval on Friday that happens to be UAE’s weekend. But more than 500 among them were left fuming after they were barred from entering the facility.

Several supporters were left fuming at the ICC, which managed the series, and the Emirates Cricket Board for hosting the matches at a venue with very less capacity. Around 2,000 spectators had managed to watch the game though. Niraj Karki, a 27-year old guy working as a security guard in Dubai, was one of them furious at the tournament organisers.

“Its matches like these that bring us together in a foreign land and we tend to forget all the hardships we go through during our regular work. The cricket team has done wonders for the nation and there is no point of hosting an international match in a venue that doesn’t have big seating capacity,” said Karki.  

Inside the Oval, Nepalese fans continued to create a festive atmosphere that gave the impression of the Tribhuvan University ground back home. The Nepali fans usually turn up in huge numbers anywhere in the world whenever the cricket team plays. The UAE is among a nation with huge Nepali diaspora. “Cricket-wise the venue is fantastic but for Nepal’s matches, maybe they can add few more facilities for crowd,” said Nepal skipper Paras Khadka.

According to the latest official figures, around 225,000 Nepalese live in the UAE, most of them workers. There were also supporters who had to come from Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ajman. “We have to come here spending a huge amount in transportation and food. The Oval ground itself is located in an isolated area so we have to make a long way here. And not getting an opportunity to watch is the worst thing that has happened to us,” fumed one of the fans under conditions of anonymity.

For Karki it was a humiliation. “I take this as a humiliation not only for us but for the cricket team as well. The UAE has state of the art facilities when hosting international cricket matches. The country has hosted other big international teams as well at Sharjah, Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi or the Dubai Cricket Stadium. They should have hosted this series there. Nepali fans are always willing to pay to watch games. Unfortunately we are smaller teams in world cricket,” said Karki sarcastically.

Published: 02-02-2019 12:16

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