Muscat: With the World Cup qualifier set tonight between Oman and Saudi Arabia at Sultan Qaboos Stadium in Bowsher, there is a mixed feeling in the capital city today. With every resident and citizen hoping for an Oman win, the choice of opening the gates to the event has divided opinion.
Authorities have allowed only 30 per cent capacity at the stadium, which is around 11,000. The entry to the venue is also conditional - only those who have completed their COVID-19 jabs can come in.
Dr Khalid Al Zadjali, 60, said the entry should have been further restricted. “It would have been better still to have the fans watch it at home. Oman is containing the numbers now with strict measures and intense vaccination drive.”
Aditya Govind, 22, an avid footballer, born and brought up in Oman, said stadiums in Oman opening for live matches for fans is the best news he has had in recent times. “Although I could not buy the tickets online as there was a mad rush with bulk purchase of tickets by certain people, I am glad this trend has started.”
Tickets were available only through online food delivery platform TM Done. There were reports on social media about tickets going up for exorbitant prices in black market. Tickets priced at RO3 were being sold in black for as high as RO 45 outside the platform. Oman Football Association and TM Done had issued a statement in this regard whereby they stated that the officials at the gate will verify the ticket holder’s data on the ticket barcode.
Shaddad Musalmy, noted journalist and columnist said that it is perfectly safe to watch the match live in the stadium where only vaccinated people are allowed entry and once inside social distancing is ensured too.