CAN football stadium crash kills eight in Cameroon

The accident, which occurred at an entrance gate to the Paul Biya stadium in the capital Yaoundé, before a match between Cameroon and the Comoros, shook the supporters.

Videos circulating online show panic and confusion as people struggle to get out of the stadium gates, which some at the game say caused a crush. Others remained motionless, oblivious to the crisis unfolding before them.

Two children, aged 6 and 14, are among the dead and seven of the injured are still in critical condition. The stadium, which has a capacity of 60,000, had planned for 80% capacity due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions. According to official reports, 50,000 fans tried to attend yesterday’s match.

Football scout Ed Dove was at the game and saw the chaos unfold. He says the crash happened due to poor organization – many people went to the pitch without tickets, and Covid-19 testing would have created bottlenecks. In addition, the east gate of the stadium was closed, which was not planned.

He said: “It was supposed to be a historic game, a lot of people came to see the atmosphere. A policeman told me that a gate or a barrier had collapsed and fell on people at the before.

“After the incident, people were removed from the stadium, wrapped in foil.”

FIFA, the world football association, sent its “sincere condolences” to the families and friends of the victims.

Will the CAN continue?

At a press conference in Cameroon today, Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Patrice Motsepe said the rest of the tournament would not be cancelled. He said: “There is a duty to listen to the various stakeholders. The conclusion was to observe a minute of silence before each game.

Motsepe also mentioned that security is the responsibility of the Cameroonian government, not the CAF. However, he said: “Now is not the time to point fingers, you can’t say CAF is to blame. We have partnerships. We are a collective and we will be guided by the [Cameroonian government’s investigation] report.”

Cameroonian President Paul Biya has ordered an investigation into the tragedy. A statement issued by the administration indicates that “the injured were sent to four health establishments in the city of Yaoundé, where they were immediately taken care of”.

He continues: “Faced with this tragedy, the gravity of which arouses emotion and consternation, the Head of State sends his most sincere condolences to the families who have suffered a lot and his wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured”.

As a result, Sunday’s quarter-final has been moved to the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium, where stricter security rules will be in place. A hearing is scheduled for tomorrow to determine whether the closing of the door is contributed to the accident.

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