Cameroon accuses stadium death of “massive” influx of fans

Yaoundé, Cameroon — Cameroon authorities have arrived late for a deadly stadium crash at the Africa Cup of Nations, late for a match involving a host team, and are ticketless fans trying to force a break-in to evade security checks. Condemned for the “massive” influx of. COVID-19 screening.

In response, the government ordered 250 additional police officers for the quarterfinals against The Gambia at another stadium on Saturday, the next match in Cameroon.

Eight people were killed, 38 were injured, and seven were seriously injured in the last 16 games of Stampede in Cameroon-Comoro on Monday at the main Orembe Stadium in the Africa Cup of Nations in the capital of Yaoundé. rice field. This was one of the worst stadium disasters in the history of Africa’s largest football tournament.

Cameroon’s sports minister, Narcisse Mouelle Kombi, said at a press conference on Friday that the full results of the government’s investigation were not yet available, but he revealed some new information.

According to Combi, the COVID-19 limit meant that the audience would be limited to a maximum of 48,000, so nearly 60,000 fans tried to join the game in Olembé.

The organizers of the Africa Cup require fans to show a negative virus test and prove that they have been vaccinated with COVID-19 to participate in the game.

However, many fans did not have a ticket or did not meet the COVID-19 screening criteria, so they were forced to participate, Combi said. A local TV station broadcasts footage of fans overcoming a security fence in the event of a crash.

“We cannot tell you the results of the investigation ordered by President Paul Biya of Cameroon, but the large and slow influx of supporters and spectators at Yaoundé’s Olembet Stadium caused the crash,” said Combi.

The fans also arrived late because they were watching the previous game on TV, Combi said.

Soccer cameroon
An overview of Cameroon fans in the stadium hosting the Africa Cup of Nations soccer game Cameroon v Comoros on January 24, 2022 in Yaoundé, Cameroon. (Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters)
Cameroon Soccer Stampede
People help Stampede victims outside the stadium hosting the Africa Cup of Nations soccer game in Yaoundé, Cameroon on January 24, 2022. (Thierry Noukeu / AP Photo)

Authorities have not yet explained why security officials turned their fans to locked gates, as witnesses claimed and contributed to the crush. Or why was security so inadequate and easily overwhelmed?

Combi is also the chairman of the local organizing committee for tournaments in Cameroon.

He said the improved security of the match against Gambia in Cameroon in the commercial capital Douala on Saturday was “a non-citizen Cameroonian who wants to push into the stadium when there is no admission ticket and the COVID-19 test result is negative. To prevent action. “

After many children were crushed in Olembé, the organizers no longer allow children under the age of 11 to participate in the game, Combi said.

The Confederation of African Football, which runs the Africa Cup of Nations with a local organizer, has moved one of the quarterfinals away from Olembet Stadium as a result of the crash.

Martin Mbarga Nguelle, Cameroon’s police chief, said he personally oversaw the security preparations for the quarterfinals in Cameroon.

The country of Central Africa has hosted the Africa Cup for the first time in 50 years, and its preparations are being scrutinized. It was scheduled to be held in 2019, but due to problems with the stadium’s preparation, the CAF removed the event for that year.

The CAF threatened Cameroon a few months ago to steal the opening game from a 60,000-seat arena that cost more than $ 300 million to build the Africa Cup due to inadequate facilities and security plans in Olembe. I warned you.

Associated Press