New Delhi - Customs officers at Mumbai airport confiscated what they thought was the Cricket World Cup trophy, citing unpaid duties, an Indian newspaper reported Saturday.
A representative of the International Cricket Council (ICC) arrived with the trophy Thursday night on a flight from Colombo where it had been displayed during the Sri Lanka-New Zealand semi-final.
However, customs officers seized the 11-kilogram silver and gold cup valued at 135,000 dollars, saying it was not exempt from import duties calculated at nearly 50,000 dollars, the Mumbai Mirror tabloid reported.
The officials then offered to waive the fees if they could get tickets for the final between India and Sri Lanka on Saturday, the report said.
"We can say they asked for a substantial number of tickets," an unnamed ICC official told the paper.
The tabloid said the officers were baffled when they were told to keep the trophy until Monday after the final was over, when ICC bosses would settle the matter.
The officials were unaware that the ICC has two identical World Cup trophies.
While the one that is usually kept at the ICC headquarters in Dubai was sent to Colombo for public display, the other one had been at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium for the past month and would be presented to the winning side on Saturday night.
Meanwhile, cricket mania reached fever pitch in the Indian sub-continent as millions of fans geared up for the all South Asian final.
Security was tight and thousands of police were deployed in Mumbai as it was the first time after the 2008 terrorist attacks that the city was hosting such a high-profile sporting event.
The match was due to be attended by President Pratibha Patil, her Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa and a host of politicians, business leaders and Bollywood stars.Author: Siddhartha Kumar