Kolkata: The Lionel Messi fever is slowly catching catch up in the Mecca of Indian football as 42,000 tickets has been sold for the marquee Argentina vs Venezuela international friendly on September 2. At the look of it, the ticket sales may appear to be a bit lukewarm but the organisers are leaving no stone unturned to avoid any slip up as it was witnessed when Diego Maradona sent the city into a frenzy about three years ago. (Agencies)
Unlike Maradona's visit, there will be no special arrangement for the city crowd to welcome Messi when the Argentine sensation arrives with his Barcelona teammate Javier Mascherano late on Tuesday night as the duo will be taken to the team hotel on EM Bypass by a special security cover straight from the airport tarmac.
Besides the match, the players will visit Missionaries of Charity, but it was not clear whether Messi will make it as he will only join the rest of the touring members on Tuesday night.
But Celebrity Management Group, said everything could only be confirmed after the arrival of Argentine coach Alejandro Sabella, who will arrive along with 17 others on Monday.
"We have also planned an interaction with selected children. There are many such things but at this point of time we cannot confirm unless the coach gives his approval," Bhaswar Goswami, executive director of CMG, said.
Providing details about the Argentine side's itinerary, Goswami said five members of the technical delegation arrived this morning.
"Venezuela team members will arrive tomorrow onwards along with 18 Argentines. On Tuesday, 17 more Argentines will arrive, while Messi and Mascherano will be the last to join."
Messi will be arriving in Kolkata after playing a La Liga match against Villareal on Monday and then he is expected to travel via Frankfurt along with Mascherano, on Tuesday.
Asked about any arrangement for spectators to welcome the Argentine superstar during his entry to Kolkata, Goswami said, "We have no such arrangement, keeping in mind the security hazards. There will not be any see-through bus as per the security requirement. We don't want to take any chance."
Meanwhile, the Salt Lake Stadium is painted in Albicelestes colours as the stadium looks refurbished with the Argentina dressing room in white and sky blue, on the eve of the state government's handing over to the organisers.
"Have you been to the Salt Lake stadium of late? If you have seen the stadium three months ago, go and look yourself now. You would be hard to believe that this is the same stadium," Goswami said.
He further said opportunities like this make the infrastructure better.
"We have to create, organise such things more often. We want this Football Fest to be back every year," Goswami said officially announcing their tie-up with Rose Valley Group as title sponsors.
Giving details about ticket sales, Goswami said about 42,000 tickets have been sold out so far.
"All tickets in upper tier (of INR 700 and 1,000) have been sold out. Tickets of the denominations of INR 2570 and 3590 have also been sold out. In the middle tier, the tickets of denominations INR 5120 and 3590 have also been sold out.
"We have just left with lower tier tickets (denominations INR 1550 and INR 1860) and in few in middle tier (of INR 2060 and INR 2470)," Goswami said.
About 88,000 tickets from a seating capacity of 120,000 were up for counter sale the remaining were given to the association members.
CMG CEO Dharamdutt Pandey said match tickets were up for exchange.
"Those who have booked the tickets online or through counters can get it from any of the counters located at Mohammadan Sporting, Mohun Bagan or the match venue Salt Lake Stadium," he informed.
The match is scheduled to start at 7pm.
Kolkata: The Lionel Messi fever is slowly catching catch up in the Mecca of Indian football as 42,000 tickets has been sold for the marquee Argentina vs Venezuela international friendly on September 2.
At the look of it, the ticket sales may appear to be a bit lukewarm but the organisers are leaving no stone unturned to avoid any slip up as it was witnessed when Diego Maradona sent the city into a frenzy about three years ago.