January 11, 2016 07:52 am
A Sri Lankan cricket spectator says fans were “treated like animals” by Eden Park security, who confiscated musical instruments and booted out spectators at the New Zealand vs Sri Lanka Twenty20 cricket match on Sunday.
A group of Sri Lankan fans had their drums and flags taken off them - both of which they’ve used at Eden Park and at previous Twenty20 matches before.
Cricket fan Taine de Alwis was part of a group of Sri Lankan fans playing the drums at the game.
De Alwis said he walked into the park with his drum with no issues, but then had it taken off him after he had been playing it for around 10 minutes.
While he was allowed to stay in the stadium, de Alwis said several other fans were made to leave because they became “very angry” after their instruments were taken from them and were demanding reasons.
The New Zealand-born Sri Lankan said the incident was a total abuse of power.
“If we were told that we were not allowed to take the drums in at the gate itself, there would have been much less drama, but seeing as we were allowed to bring them in, the confiscation was ridiculous.”
“At every sporting event we sing, we dance and we play instruments, it sets an atmosphere that not only we enjoy but the people around us enjoy as well.”
The upset fan said this had been the case at Sunday’s match, where he said Kiwi fans joined in with their dancing and then booed the security guards when they began to intervene.
“We bought a ticket like everyone else, we had done nothing wrong and they were treating us like animals.”
De Alwis had used his drum during four 2015 World Cup games, including at Eden Park and at the Mount’s Bay Oval.
At none of these games had he encountered any issues with security.
On Sunday, upset fans were later seen talking to police about the incident.
An Auckland police spokeswoman said that while police were involved with one eviction from the stadium, security measures at Eden Park were primarily the responsibility of the venue owners and event organisers.
“Police were asked to help with one incident where a patron refused to move from a public accessway in the stands. The man was asked repeatedly to move as he was creating a safety risk but when he continued to refuse to do so, police assisted security in having him removed.”
Eden Park Trust CEO Guy Ngata said the removal of seven spectators from the grounds was on the basis of alcohol management and misconduct.
“Eden Park reserves the right to ask patrons to leave if they are consuming alcohol not purchased at the ground or are intoxicated”, he said.
Ngata did not comment on the confiscation of musical instruments from spectators, or whether they would likely ban musical instruments for future events.
Twitter and Facebook were rife with accusations security guards were acting as the “fun police” and being too hard on fans, confiscating musical instruments and kicking people out.
The conditions of entry listed on the venue’s website includes a lengthy list of prohibited items.
This includes “sound amplifying devices including loudhailers, air horns or similar devices”.
Musical instruments do not specifically feature on the list.
Dilini Wijesinghe said she would never go to Eden Park again.
Wijesinghe said everyone was enjoying the drums, which had been confiscated without any proper explanation.
“It just sort of feel like it’s racist. I’m really sorry but you know, that’s how I felt because we were enjoying it. If we did something illegal, that’s perfectly fine, take it away.”
Wellington’s Westpac Stadium has a different policy for musically inclined fans, having stated in its prohibited items list that no musical instruments would be condoned, Stuff.co.nz reports.