A crush outside a Cameroon stadium where the host nation qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) quarter-finals on Monday left at least six people dead and more than 40 injured, according to the Central African nation’s national broadcaster.
Crowds attempted to enter the Yaounde Olembe stadium in the capital Yaounde to watch Cameroon beat Comoros 2-1 in Africa’s top football tournament.
While the stadium’s capacity of 60,000 was limited to 60 percent because of the coronavirus, the cap is 80 percent for matches involving the national team.
“A crush at the entrance to the Olembe Stadium” caused “half a dozen deaths and dozens have been injured”, reported Cameroon’s state broadcaster CRTV.
The Confederation of African Football, which runs the continent’s flagship competition, said it was “investigating the situation and trying to get more details on what transpired”.
Following a low turnout in the first round games at brand new stadiums built for the continent’s premier men’s soccer tournament, Cameroon authorities have thrown open stadium gates, organised mass transport, and given out free tickets to lure fans.
Over the years, overcrowding at football matches has resulted in hundreds of deaths around the world.
In 2015, thousands of fans in Cairo attempted to enter a stadium in the Egyptian capital to watch a game, triggering panic as police fired tear gas and birdshot. The chaos led to the deaths of 40 people and dozens were injured.
In 2001, 43 people died in a stampede at Johannesburg’s Ellis Park stadium during a game between the Orlando Pirates and the Kaizer Chiefs.
In Liverpool in 1989, 96 people were killed in a crush at the Hillsborough stadium in Britain’s worst sporting tragedy.