Organisers of the Asian Cup have apologised to hundreds of fans who were locked out of the final in Qatar, despite holding valid tickets, after security guards denied them entry.
The local organising committee has said it will refund the estimated 700 ticket-holders who were left outside the 40,000-seat Khalifa Stadium when gates were locked 55 minutes prior to kick-off due to the attendance of several VIPs.
In a statement to Arabian Business, organisers urged fans to get in touch for ticket refunds.
“We apologize to fans that were not able to enter the Final Match and have decided in conjunction with the AFC to refund all ticket-holders who have been denied access to the venue due to Security Closure of Gates,” the committee said.
“Please see the detailed process at tickets.afcasiancup.com for applying for refunds and – as always – please do not hesitate to contact the QLOC at firstname.lastname@example.org for any further inquiries you may have.”
Refund applications will be considered between 3-28 February.
The Asian Cup had been billed as a dress rehearsal for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup, but led to a storm of criticism from fans – some of whom had travelled hundreds of miles for the event.
Sameh Abu Assi, who had driven nearly 1,600km from Saudi Arabia, told newswire CP he had spent $2,000 on hotels and tickets.
"We should be allowed to enter," he said. "How do they expect to organize the 2022 World Cup? They can't even organize this."
Comments posted on the Arabian Business website also suggested that the authorities had deliberately misrepresented the number of fans who had been locked out of the game.
“I was there at gate J5, there were at least 350 people there with tickets and were denied entry, I know this because I was one of them,” one poster identifying himself as Aaron wrote. “And I know that there were people complaining at each and every gate.”
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