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An entertainments company owned by two Sri Lankan cricket legends apologized yesterday for an Enrique Iglesias concert where local women shed their underwear, sparking outrage from the country's president. Live Events, owned by Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, admitted that security "failed alarmingly" and apologized for the "negative experience" during the one-hour concert in Colombo on December 20. Fans had paid prices ranging from 5,000 rupees to 50,000 rupees ($350) for tickets to the show which was part of the Spanish star's world tour, "Love and Sex".

They did not directly refer to President Maithripala Sirisena's criticism that intoxicated local women had thrown their bras at the singer and kissed and hugged him. "I don't advocate that these uncivilized women who removed their brassieres should be beaten with toxic stingray tails, but those who organized such an event should be," the president said on Sunday. In conservative Sri Lankan society, public displays of affection, even among married couples, are frowned upon. Police are known to have arrested courting couples for kissing in public parks or seafront promenades.

Sirisena did not name the two cricket stars, but it was widely known that the concert was hosted by a company set up recently by the pair after Sangakkara retired from international cricket in August. Live Events said they were considering refunding fans who were disappointed due to delays in starting the concert and the ensuing crowd chaos. Those who had paid for the most expensive tickets were said to have been dislodged by people who bought cheaper tickets as security and crowd control arrangements failed.

"Although we know an apology or refund cannot fully satiate your disappointment, we wish to reiterate that we remain fully committed to all of you and our country," the cricketing duo said. "A full and thorough internal inquiry is ongoing into all areas of concern." They also denied allegations that they had dodged paying local municipal taxes amounting to nearly 30 million rupees ($215,000).-AFP