Bangladeshis priced out of Lionel Messi match

Lionel Messi
Dhaka, Sep 5: Football fans in Bangladesh, one of the world's poorest countries, have reacted in fury over ticket prices set at a minimum of $100 to see superstar Lionel Messi lead out Argentina in a friendly.

The stylish South Americans, who have had a massive following in Bangladesh since the 1980s, will play in the capital Dhaka on Tuesday evening against Nigeria.

But only half of the tickets have so far been sold for the game -- the biggest football match in the country's history -- with many fans unable to afford the entry price.

Passion for the beautiful game runs deep in Bangladesh despite the national team's lowly ranking of 139 in the world and the long-standing dominance of cricket.

During the football World Cup last year, the country was covered in Argentinian and Brazilian flags as raucous fans adopted one or other side and supported them with ferocious loyalty.

Messi''s scheduled arrival today from India, where Argentina beat Venezuela in another friendly on Friday, is likely to trigger huge excitement in the nation of 150 million people.

But minimum ticket prices of 7,500 taka (100 dollars) and the expense of Eid celebrations last week marking the end of Ramadan could leave rows of empty seats at the 24,000-capacity Bangabandhu National Stadium.

"It's a ridiculous price. They don't want real soccer fans to watch Messi's match. I earn just 8,000 taka per month. How can I afford a ticket?" Rajib Ahmed, 25, a chemical tester at a private company, told AFP outside the ground. 


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