At least eight fans were killed and 38 people injured at Cameroon’s Yaounde Olembe stadium on Monday ahead of the host country’s Africa Cup of Nations Round of 16 match, the government said in a statement.
Footage shared on social media showed screaming fans crushed at a front door ahead of the game against Comoros.
According to eyewitness accounts, people were “trampled on” as fans forced their way into the stadium.
Children are also believed to be among those involved in the tragedy, with others adding the fight started when stewards closed the gates and stopped allowing people into the stadium.
Some 50,000 people had attempted to attend the match at the 60,000 capacity stadium. However, due to Covid restrictions, only 80% of fans were allowed in. Experts with knowledge of the stadium’s layout have suggested that the number of entrances may be insufficient for the number of people trying to gain access.
“There was the kind of stampede that we see wherever there are these kinds of large crowds,” said CAN organizing committee spokesman Abel Mbengue. The Team. “We are waiting for reliable information about the victims.”
The Confederation of African Football (CAF), the continent’s football governing body, said in a statement that it was investigating.
“CAF are currently investigating the situation and trying to get more details about what happened. We are in constant communication with the Cameroonian government and the local organizing committee,” he said.
One of the federation’s top officials, general secretary Veron Mosengo-Omba, went to visit the injured fans in hospital, the statement said.
The football world came together to mourn the incident paying tribute to the fans who lost their lives.
European football’s governing body UEFA said: “On behalf of the European football community, UEFA sends its deepest condolences to all those affected by the tragic events that took place last night at the exterior of the Paul Biya stadium in Cameroon.
After low turnout in first-round matches in brand new stadiums built for the continent’s first men’s football tournament, Cameroonian authorities opened stadium gates, organized public transport and distributed free tickets to attract the fans.
Monday’s incident was the second major blow to the country in a day, after at least 17 people were killed in a fire sparked by a series of explosions at a Yaounde nightclub on Sunday.
Following the incident, Cameroonian President Paul Biya has urged the country to be on guard as it hosts its biggest national sporting event in half a century.
Cameroon won the match 2-1 to reach the quarter-finals.
The Independent Gt