Africa Cup of Nations: eight killed after stampede in Cameroon
Many people also injured in the crush outside of Yaoundé’s Olembe Stadium
At least eight people were killed and 38 were injured following a stampede at an Africa Cup of Nations match in Cameroon last night. The crush happened ahead of the host nation’s 2-1 victory over Comoros at the Olembe Stadium in Yaoundé.
The stadium in Cameroon’s capital city has a 60,000 capacity and was only meant to be 80% full for the last-16 tie due to Covid-19 restrictions. However, officials said around 50,000 fans had tried to attend the match, Sky Sports reported.
Witnesses described “chaotic scenes outside the ground” as thousands of fans struggled to get access, the BBC said. And videos showed crowds of “screaming football fans being crushed at the entry gates” to the stadium.
The incident was the second serious blow to the country in the space of a day, ESPN reported. On Sunday at a nightclub in Yaoundé at least 17 people died from a fire set off by a series of explosions.
‘Very hard and tough discussions’
The Confederation of African Football (CAF), organisers of the Cup of Nations, issued a statement last night saying it is “investigating the situation and trying to get more details on what transpired”.
At a press conference in Yaoundé today CAF president Patrice Motsepe said “we will have very hard and tough discussions behind closed doors”. He added: “Clearly there were failures, things that could’ve been prevented. Appropriate measures [must be] put in place to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
Following the tragic incident, football’s world governing body Fifa sent its “deepest condolences” to the families and friends of the victims who lost their lives.
Quarter-final match moved
A source with knowledge of the stadium’s layout “suggested the quantity of entrances may have been inadequate for the number of people who attempted to gain access”, The Guardian said. A quarter-final fixture was due to be played at the stadium on Sunday, but the match has now been switched to the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaoundé instead.
The Olembe Stadium, newly constructed for the tournament, held the opening ceremony and is scheduled to also host a semi-final on 3 February and the Cup of Nations final on Sunday 6 February. “Serious questions” will now be asked of its “capability to host high-capacity events over the remainder of the tournament”, The Guardian said.
Cameroon, which is hosting Africa’s biggest tournament for the first time in 50 years, will play in the quarter-finals on Saturday against Gambia.