22 people have been confirmed dead and over 130 severely injured in a stampede that happened before a Fifa World Cup qualifier match between the Ivory Coast and Malawi in the Houphouet-Boigny arena in Abidjan, capital of Ivory Coast.
As 36000 Ivorian fans struggled to make their way to watch their star studded team a wall in the stadium collapsed as a result of pressure and a stampede ensued. According to Desire Tagro, Ivory Coast Interior Minister: “Lots of fans showed up,they started pushing to get in because the match was about to start and each and every one of them wanted to get in.” Reports claim that the arena had just been refurbished.
The fans had been sent into frenzy by the promised array of Chelsea Didier Drogba, and Salomon Kalou, Arsenal’s Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue, Tottenham’s Didier Zokora, Sevilla’s Ndri Romaric and Marseille forward Bakari Kone.
Reports claimed that the stadium was packed to witness the return of Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, who scored twice on the night to send the crowd to limbo. Prior to kick-off, police had to fire tear gas to control the stampeding fans as authorities tried in vain to control the fans. Riots and stampedes have claimed the lives of 100s of fans at football games across Africa since 1999.
The ministry of sport and the Ivorian Football Federation confirmed the number of deaths this morning, Monday 28th, 2009. An official statement from the sports ministry claimed that the thousands of fans tried to squeeze into the city’s main stadium prior to the game. The fixture was however allowed to go on, and Ivory coast went on to dish out 5 un-replied goals past Malawi.