Pini Gershon's call for Maccabi Tel Aviv fans to color Moscow in yellow during the Euroleague Final Four next month have kicked up quite a stir at CSKA Moscow, the host club. "The Olympisky Arena must be blue and red in May," CSKA manager Sergei Kushnetzki told the Russian daily Sport Express yesterday. "Under no circumstances am I prepared to see half the arena fill with Maccabi's fans."
Kushnetzki said that CSKA had been tracking all the tickets not allocated to the participating clubs in order to make sure they were not picked up by Maccabi fans.
According to Sport Express, CSKA has put together a blacklist of people who posed as CSKA fans last season and sold tickets allocated to the club for the Final Four in Tel Aviv to Maccabi fans. Some of the bogus CSKA fans have had requests for tickets for this season's event turned down. In another step to block Maccabi fans from dominating the stands in May, CSKA has opted to sell group packages to companies, schools, and factories.
The number of tickets Maccabi fans have picked up outside of their allocation is unknown, but Sport Express correspondent Alexander Fedutof says that CSKA is aiming to have a 70 percent majority in the stands at the Olympisky Arena. That translates to 9,500 fans out of 13,800 tickets allocated to fans. The remaining 4,000 seats will be filled by dignitaries and the media.
The number of tickets sold via the Euroleague itself is unclear. Euroleague spokesman Valdimir Stanakovich told Haaretz yesterday that the Euroleague had sold 6,500 tickets, but the Russian press says this figure is exaggerated.
Either way, one thing is clear: hundreds of fake tickets have been brought by unsuspecting Maccabi fans. Organizers in Moscow are bracing themselves for the possibility that hundreds and perhaps thousands of fans will turn up at the Olympisky only to find their tickets are not valid.
When asked what were the chances of 5,000 Maccabi fans getting tickets to the Final Four, Stanakovich said the Euroleague was obliged to allocate only 610 tickets to each participating club. Tickets for the event range from 20 euro for the cheapest ticket to 1,100 for the most expensive ticket.
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