AFCON 2021: Olembe Stadium stampede sparks chorus of nobody should go to a football match and not come home
CAF has now moved the AFCON 2021 quarter-final tie scheduled on Sunday between the winners of Ivory Coast vs Egypt and Morocco vs Malawi to Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium.
Monday's Africa Cup of Nations last-16 game between hosts Cameroon and Comoros witnessed a tragic stampede that killed eight people and left at least 38 injured. The incident took place after crowds struggled to get access to the Olembe Stadium in Cameroon's capital of Yaounde. Naseri Paul Biya, governor of the central region of Cameroon, said the number of casualties could still increase. The night ended with hosts Cameroon securing a 2-1 win to reach the quarter-finals.
Following this shocker, the Confederation of African Football has now moved the AFCON 2021 quarter-final tie scheduled on Sunday between the winners of Ivory Coast vs Egypt and Morocco vs Malawi to Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium.
Addressing the media, CAF President Patrice Motsepe called for an investigation into Monday's tragic incident, adding that ensuring the safety of every single spectator is their primary concern. "There is zero tolerance on circumstances which could result in people being injured at the stadium or losing their lives," he added.
"I need a report on what happened, the circumstances that led to people being injured and emergency measures to make sure that doesn't happen again. We have to take collective responsibility. There must be a committee set up to immediately investigate what happened and find out who did not perform their responsibilities. We want that report by Friday," Motsepe said.
Following Monday's unfortunate incident, social media was flooded with videos of fans storming the Olembe Stadium gates. Reports quoting witnesses suggest that the stampede happened when stadium stewards closed the gates and stopped allowing people to enter.
According to reports, around 50,000 people tried to attend Monday's match at the Olembe Stadium. Though the stadium has a capacity of 60,000, only 80 per cent of it was to be occupied owing to crowd restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
FIFA took note of Monday's tragic incident and sent its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims who lost their lives. "The thoughts and prayers of the global football community are with the victims, the ones who have been injured in this incident, and all the staff of both CAF and the Cameroonian Football Association (FECAFOOT) at this difficult moment," the governing body added in a statement.
Meanwhile, the football community worldwide took to social media, sparking the chorus that nobody should go to a football match and not come home. The English Premier League offered their thoughts to all those affected by the events at the Olembe Stadium in Cameroon. Meanwhile, the Football Association, Ligue 1, Sevilla FC too joined football fans, players, and experts to offer their condolences.
Cameroon is hosting the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in five decades. The African nation was supposed to host the competition in 2019, but the tournament was awarded to Egypt following concerns over Cameroon's readiness of stadiums. The Olembe Stadium, which hosted the tournament's opening ceremony earlier this month, was one of the venues under scrutiny. The stadium is one of the main venues for the month-long competition and is also due to stage the final on February 6.