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AFCON: FIFA sends condolences to families of crushing victims

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FIFA has given its “deepest condolences” to the families and friends of those who died in last night’s crush outside the Olembe Stadium before last night’s Africa Cup of Nations round of 16 matches between hosts Cameroon and Comoros.

According to Agence France-Presse, officials confirmed eight deaths so far, including one child, in the capital Yaoundé.

There were videos of fans screaming at the entry gates to the stadium.

Seven of the 38 people who were injured are in serious condition.

“FIFA sends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims who lost their lives following the tragic incident that took place at Olembe Stadium during the Africa Cup of Nations fixture between Cameroon and Comoros,” read the FIFA statement.

“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 at this difficult moment.”

Due to COVID-19 restrictions in Cameroon, the capacity was curbed at 80 percent of its usual 60,000 for a match where Cameroon won 2-1 to reach the quarter-finals.

Approximately 50,000 people were trying to attend the match, which is 2,000 more than the allowed attendance of 48,000.

Buster Emil Kirchner, a Danish journalist, witnessed the incident.

“It was hectic – people running, people climbing fences, people breaking through the barricades,” Kirchner told the BBC.

Another journalist, Leocadia Bongben from Cameroon, claimed there was a disturbance from one of the fan zones outside.

“People started shouting,” Bongben told BBC’s Newsday program.

“A minute after that an ambulance came to the stadium, but when we got to the place the police would not allow us to get close to where the stampede was.

“It’s quite a sad situation that people go to watch a game and they end up dying there.”

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced it had launched its own investigation.

CAF added the organization’s general secretary Veron Mosengo-Omba visited supporters in the hospital in Yaoundé last night.

The Olembe Stadium is otherwise known as the Paul Biya Stadium, named after the leader of the country, President of Cameroon since 1982.

CAF is due to hold a press conference at 12.30 pm GMT today, with the incident expected to be addressed then.


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