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Eight dead after stampede at Africa Cup of Nations

In their panic, some fans climb fences and break through barricades, others, including children, lie helpless on the ground: A mass panic that killed at least eight people made the soccer party at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon one of the greatest tragedies.

Ahead of the hosts’ round of 16 match against Comoros, scores of ticketless fans thronged the Stade d’Olembé in the capital Yaoundé, sparking the drama that left at least 38 dead and injured.

“When people lose their lives and get hurt, we have to take responsibility together. There is no excuse for what happened,” said Patrice Motsepe, president of the continental federation CAF. The South African reported that he himself had stood in front of a closed gate that should have been open and denounced serious misconduct. “We will have very tough discussions behind closed doors. We will do everything we can to ensure that this never happens again.”

Quarterfinals rescheduled

As a first step, the quarter-finals scheduled for Sunday were moved from the Stade d’Olembé to the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium in Yaoundé. There will be a meeting of the organizers on Wednesday, according to Motsepe, the report of an investigative commission must be available by Friday. From now on there will be a minute’s silence before all matches in the competition, the CAF is in contact with the families of the victims.

The association of Cameroon also published a statement. “We deeply regret the dramatic events outside the stadium. Our condolences go to the victims and their families. We call on the fans to act in a disciplined and responsible manner so that the remaining games can be festive,” said Cameroon captain Vincent Aboubakar. The former FC Porto striker scored the second goal in the 2-1 win over Comoros.

The world governing body FIFA expressed “deepest condolences” to the families and friends of the victims in a statement on Tuesday. The “thoughts and prayers of the global football community” are with the victims and their families.

“Human Tidal Wave”

“A human tidal wave rolled over the south entrance,” wrote the Cameroon Tribue. “It was a lot of chaos. It was hectic. People were running, climbing fences, breaking through barriers,” Danish journalist Buster Emil Kirchner, who was there, told the BBC. According to witnesses, stewards closed the entrance gates to the stadium. Photos show how several people – including children – are lying on the ground and others are apparently trying to help them. A 14-year-old boy was among the victims, the British media outlet reported.

According to the information, 50,000 people tried to watch Cameroon’s game against Comoros. 60,000 visitors fit into the stadium, but due to the Corona regulations, only 80 percent of the seats (48,000) were allowed to be filled. Bundesliga professional Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting from FC Bayern Munich also represented Cameroon.

Cameroon is only hosting the Africa Cup of Nations for the second time since 1972. The country in the middle of the continent was supposed to host the tournament in 2019, but was withdrawn from the tournament because of concerns that the stadiums would not be suitable. Egypt hosted the counterpart to the European Championship back then.

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