Monday, March 30, 2009

Stadium Disaster Leaves 22 Dead in Ivory Coast; SA Officials Deflect Concerns

A crush of people inside an Ivory Coast stadium for a World Cup qualifying match caused a wall to collapse, injuring more than 130 attendees and leaving at least 22 dead.

At least 22 football supporters have died at a World Cup qualifying match in the Ivory Coast, according to state officials. Reports suggest that a wall collapsed as a number of fans, possibly without tickets, crushed into the Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium in Abidjan shortly before Ivory Coast were due to play Malawi. Desire Tagro, Ivory Coast's minister of the interior, said that 22 people were killed and more than 130 were injured.


Reports conflict over the number of fans in attendance, with estimates ranging from 36,000 to more than 60,000. Some news sources reported that the game was sold out and the stadium overcrowded after cut-price tickets were put on sale.

"Spectators who did not buy tickets were jostling before the match," the Ivory Coast's sports minister, Dagobert Banzio, told state television. "They smashed one of the main gates of the stadium. They were trampled." Banzio estimated the number of injured at 132.

South African World Cup organizer Danny Jordaan says stampedes like those seen during many African matches will not be a problem during the 2010 tournament, mainly due to the way tickets will be sold.

Jordaan says many African fans buy their tickets only when they reach the stadium, and often arrive late to do that, creating an impatient crowd outside that can spark an incident.

When the World Cup comes to South Africa in 2010, match tickets will have to be purchased well in advance. Jordaan says those without tickets will be "stopped kilometers away," and fans will be urged to arrive early.

Supporters die at Ivory Coast World Cup qualifier after crush
The Guardian
March 30, 2009

World Cup organizer: Stampedes won't be an issue
Associated Press
March 30, 2009