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Fake tickets could have caused crush

South Africa has been widely praised for its successful hosting of the Indian Premier League but there was concern that counterfeit tickets had caused the Wanderers Stadium in Joburg to be dangerously overcrowded for Sunday's final.

Gauteng Cricket Board officials estimated there were 38 000 packed inside a stadium with a capacity of 31 000.

GCB CEO Alan Kourie said last night they had intercepted "an incredible number" of counterfeit tickets and passed over information about who had printed them to the authorities.

"We've informed the metro police about the tickets we found," Kourie said, "but we suspect there must have been many more because I have never before seen the stadium this full. It's dangerous.

"On the grass embankment, the family area on the west side of the stadium, they were packed in like sardines; there was no room to move there at all. Over on the open stand it was just ridiculous.

"In both the Unity Stand and the Centenary Stand, there were people sitting in the aisles and standing behind the seats. We were sold out for the Australia game and I can tell you that it was not as full as this.

This is our stadium, we know it intimately. You can tell from experience how many people are in the stadium at any given time, and we reckon there are more than 35 000 in here, possibly 38 000."

Kourie would not say where the fraudulent tickets came from but it is understood that they were found in the possession of a company contracted to do work for the IPL.

Kourie said they would allow the police investigation to follow its course before deciding on a course of action and did not rule out laying criminal charges.

The GCB has been at loggerheads with the IPL since Cricket South Africa agreed to host the tournament in April and at one stage it seemed as though the Wanderers would not host any IPL matches.

At issue have been the rights of suite holders and beer-pouring rights, as well as the price of tickets. The tickets for the final were initially priced at R200 by the IPL.

After thousands of tickets were sold by the GCB at that price the IPL then raised the price to R300 without timeously informing the board, which was expected to absorb the difference.

Last Sunday police had to be called in after a fight broke out between supporters of IPL teams in the Long Room, the VIP room taken over by the IPL.

Sunday's final was won by the Deccan Chargers, who beat the Royal Challengers Bangalore thanks to a resolute 53 not out by Herschelle Gibbs.

The final was attended by President Jacob Zuma, who spoke immediately after the final, but his speech was drowned out by feedback from the sound system.

Zuma was nevertheless heard to praise the South Africans who had played a part in organising the tournament at such short notice and even took time to thank Shilpa Shetty, who sat next to him in the Long Room.

The Wanderers furore aside, South Africa has come out of the IPL with its reputation for putting on world-class events pretty much intact.

In the space of three months - from the end of April until the beginning of July - South Africa will have hosted the IPL, the Super 14 rugby final, the Confederations Cup soccer tournament and the rugby tour of the British and Irish Lions.

On Sunday IPL commissioner Lalit Modi said he was considering bringing the Champions League, an eight-team tournament between Twenty20 teams from SA, India and Australia, to SA in 2010.

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