A concert in the past week has left the Bangabandhu National Stadium badly damaged, raising fears that it could jeopardise Bangladesh’s chance to host a series of international football matches scheduled in the ground in March.
ATN Records, an event management firm, hosted the concert, Tri-Nation Big Show, in the stadium on February 24, seven days after the opening of the Cricket World Cup in the ground.
Bangladesh Football Federation officials alleged that the concert had left many holes in the outfield making it barely usable.
The athletic turf installed in the ground was also badly damaged by the concert where stars of Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka, which are co-hosts of the Cricket World Cup 2011, performed.
The Olympic Pre-Qualifier football between Bangladesh and Kuwait is scheduled to be held the ground on March 9.
The ground is also supposed to host six Olympic pre-qualifiers matches of the women’s event seven days later.
The BFF grounds committee chair, Fazlur Rahman Babul, said that it would take at least a month for them to make the ground usable for an international match.
‘The entire pitch looks barren apart from few grasses in the western part. We need to fill in the holes and plant grass which is not possible to complete before a month,’ Babul told New Age on Sunday.
‘The FIFA match commissioner will arrive here three days before the match and I am afraid he may not find the ground in an appropriate condition. In that case, he can cancel the match and it will be very embarrassing for us,’ he said.
‘If the match is cancelled, we will also need to count a big amount in fine,’ he said.
Babul said they had informed the National Sports Council of the matter well in advance but they did not pay any heed. NSC officials refused to shoulder any responsibility.
‘When you see a big stadium getting allocated for a concert, you must know it is not me who gave the permission. The instruction comes from people who are high up. We had nothing to do here,’ said Haiul Quium, the director of sports, who is usually responsible for giving such permission.
Abdur Rahman, the director of planning and development of the NSC, admitted that the ground and the turf had been damaged.
‘We have heard that the athletic turf is not in a good condition. We will ask turf specialists to examine the condition and estimate the cost of repairs. The concert organisers will be asked to pay the compensation then,’ he said.
Anthony Philip, the event co-coordinator of the ATN Records, however, brushed aside the charges of causing any damage to the ground.
‘I and my people have examined the ground after the concert. It is in a good condition. If anything may really have happened to the ground, it happened because of the World Cup opening ceremony, not for us,’ he said.
Philip said they did not obtain any permission from the National Sports Council, the custodian of the ground, and they had obtained permission from the Bangladesh Cricket Board.
It was learnt that the ATN records had paid the cricket board Tk 5 crore in compensation for the concert.
As the cricket board has no legitimate right to give the ATN Records any permission for such concert in the stadium, it tagged the event to the Cricket World Cup opening to make money, sources said.
The ATN Records initially planned to host two concerts, in Chittagong and Dhaka, on February 16 and 18 and promised to pay the cricket board Tk 10 crore.
The Chittagong event had to be cancelled as it coincided with Eid-e-Miladunnabi and the ATN records also deferred the Dhaka event as they expected a low turnout between the World Cup opening ceremony and the opening match.
‘We had to spend a huge amount of money on the installation of giant screens and other World Cup promotional activities in all the district headquarters. We were told by the government to raise fund from this concert,’ said Jalal Yunus, a BCB director and the chairman of the media committee.
Kamrunnahar Dana, a national award winner sports woman and former national badminton champion, criticised renting the playground out for concert.
‘We need the stadium for sports and not for any cultural shows. I request the government to build a permanent cultural complex where such programmes could be held,’ she said.
‘It will help all of us to hold cultural programmes and will save the playgrounds as well,’ she added.
Courtesy of New Age