KUALA LUMPUR: Thousands of fans turned rowdy at Shah Alam Stadium on Monday (Aug 28) after failing to secure tickets for the SEA Games football final between Malaysia and Thailand.
The 45,000 tickets allocated to Malaysian fans and another 3,000 tickets for Thai fans were sold out for the gold medal showdown, which will take place on Tuesday.
The fans, many of whom queued from from early morning in sweltering heat, lost their cool on Monday afternoon after one of the two ticket counters closed abruptly at the stadium.
In videos that went viral on social media, fans were seen climbing on fences, chanting demands that ticket counters be opened.
Angry that they were ignored, some fans were seen knocking down barricades.
Malaysia's riot police from the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) were then deployed to defuse the situation.
According to Bernama, around 5,000 fans gathered could not get tickets to catch the final.
One of them was Mohd Kamal Nizam, 20, who said that the chaos would not have erupted if fans followed procedures set by organisers.
"Due to the mad rush, the number of counters were reduced from 20 to 10, causing a massive delay. We waited very long and we are angry,” he said.
Nur Ainaa Husna Mohd Rasid, 18, was disappointed that the tickets were not sold online, like in all previous matches of the football tournament.
"If tickets were sold online we would not have needed to come here and queue ... it is a waste of time," she said.
Malaysia's Minister for Youth and Sports Khairy Jamaluddin explained on Twitter on Monday evening that it was his call to sell the tickets at Shah Alam Stadium on Sunday night. This was because the online payment gateway provider "could not guarantee a stable process" because of the sheer volume of people trying to purchase the tickets, he said.
He added that sales at Shah Alam Stadium had to be suspended when the barricades were breached by supporters. The sales resumed after FRU arrived and all tickets were sold out.
"Whether you have tickets or not, what's important is we rally behind our athletes especially our football team," Khairy said.
Malaysian police earlier announced they would step up security checks for Tuesday's final.
Police are on guard to avoid a repeat of an incident on Aug 21, where two Myanmar supporters were beaten up by Malaysian supporters. Malaysian fans were also chided by SEA Games organisers after they chanted "Singapore dogs" from the stands in the match against their neighbours.