The president of African football has claimed that the deadly crush outside a stadium in Cameroon was caused by an access gate being closed for “inexplicable reasons”.
It has been confirmed by the government that at least eight people died and 38 were injured at the Africa Cup of Nations match between Cameroon and Comoros on Monday.
Images shared on social media showed a panicked crowd trying to squeeze through a narrow entrance gate at the newly built Olembe Stadium in Yaounde that was hosting the last-16 game.
Although the stadium's capacity of 60,000 has been limited due to coronavirus, the cap of 60 per cent is raised to 80 per cent when Cameroon's Indomitable Lions play. Officials said about 50,000 people tried to attend the match.
Two children, aged six and 14, are among the dead, and seven people were seriously injured.
Cameroonian President Paul Biya ordered an investigation into the “tragic incident”. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has also launched its own investigation.
The government did not give any information on the cause of the crush or whether fans were allowed into the stadium without tickets. It is not clear why the match — that Cameroon won 2-1 — went ahead after the disaster.
“Some of the people came just to be part of the atmosphere,” CAF president Patrice Motsepe said at a press conference.
“Including those who didn’t have tickets, so I think we do accept that thousands of people more than what was expected did arrive. Having said that, we will have very tough and very hard discussions behind closed doors and I’m confident because of the discussions I had this morning.
“What happened yesterday in terms of the proximity of people being allowed to the stadium in a manner that is not properly coordinated and governed will never happen again.
“I went to see where the people lost their lives and you see it’s a gate. That gate was supposed to be open. Because if it was open, they would have walked through and it was closed for inexplicable reasons.
“We have a duty to find out exactly what happened and more importantly to put in preventive measures to ensure that what happened never happens again.
“There were deficiencies, weaknesses, failures, things that should have been foreseen. When people lose their lives you must be angry and demand explanations and guarantees that it will never happen again.”
Motsepe confirmed Sunday’s scheduled quarter-final at the Olembe Stadium has now been moved to the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in the capital.