After scoring a hat-trick in a near-empty Mumbai Football Arena in the opening game of the Intercontinental Cup in Mumbai, Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri made a heartfelt plea for football fans to throng the ground and support them in their remaining matches of the tournament.
Set to become the first Indian player to play 100 games at senior level, Chhetri's plea not only struck a chord with the people across the nation, but more importantly, it has transpired into action. The venue for Monday’s contest, Mumbai Football Arena, has been sold out hours before the start of India's second group fixture in the Intercontinental Cup against Kenya.
Official Ticketing partner BookMyShow's chief operating officer-Non Movies, Albert Almeida, said, “Sunil Chhetri’s heartfelt appeal, amplified by the media and national icons including Virat Kohli, made a miraculous difference to the response to the ticket sales for today’s match between India and Kenya. Such a massive response to a football game in India, which incidentally also marks Chhetri’s 100th international, is completely unprecedented and will be a huge step forward for Indian football.”
According to reports, for the first match on 1 June, only 2569 spectators turned up at the venue that can hold over 8,000-10,000 spectators.
From celebrated personalities to large fan groups, Chhetri’s impassioned plea saw support pouring from various sources who did their bit in spreading the word.
Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli and legend Sachin Tendulkar recorded their message backing the Blue Tigers’ skipper.
Football fan groups like Blue Pilgrims, who made up most of the 2000-odd spectators in the stadium in the previous game, and predominantly cricket fan groups like North-Stand Gang and Bharat Army have vowed their attendance.
Indian football legend, Bhaichung Bhutia, the first and the only Indian player to play 100 international matches will be there in attendance as well.
The only Indian Footballer to have played 100 International matches @bhaichung15 arrives in Mumbai to attend #INDvKEN which is @chetrisunil11 100th International match. #Chhetri100 #INDvKEN #WeAreIndia #BackTheBlue #AsianDream pic.twitter.com/9sKAtnoamX
— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) June 4, 2018
Member of North-Stand Gang, Vipul Yadav said, “Few of my friends have not been to football stadiums in India. But having attended many matches in the stadium, we do understand the plight of athletes who don't receive support. We do plan to go for all future matches held in Mumbai." Popular Mumbai-based YouTuber, Nikunj Lotia, (Be YouNick) booked an entire stand and asked fanatics to come in.
Have booked entire STAND NUMBER 4 for all you football fanatics! All you have to do is just be there and cheer! More details on stories!#seeyousoonilchhetri #seeyouall pic.twitter.com/Ro2aDGWXxL — Be YouNick (@BeYouNick182) June 3, 2018
Updated Date: Jun 04, 2018 17:58:20 IST