- More than 18 people died in a crush while 132 were reported injured at Abidjan's Houphouet-Boigny Stadium during the soccer World Cup qualifying match between Côte d'Ivoire and Malawi on Sunday, Ministry of Interior has confirmed.
The incidence comes after the approval of the stadium by FIFA, with the organisation's inspections passing the pitch as safe to host international matches.
Interior Minister Desire Tagro said more than 36 000 spectators packed the stadium for the return of a well reknowned Chelsea striker Didier Drogba in the qualifying match, saying the stampede was caused by a wall which collapsed under the weight of the supporters trying to push into the stadium at the entrance.
The incident which occurred before the game began, is also said to have caused those who were already trying to squeeze into the stadium to panic, thus injuring and killing others as they tried to flee the scene.
"They started pushing to get in because the match was about to start and each and every one of them wanted to get in," the Minister said.
The government accused fans who did not have tickets of the stampede saying warning had been issued that the tickets were all sold out. However, some supporters have said security forces sparked the stampede when they fired tear gas at crowds.
Local news reports said although the stadium had been refurbished the numbers that pushed through to get into the stadium to watch the game was beyond the stadium’s capacity.
The tragedy followed similar incidents which have marred international matches in Africa in the last decade, with the recent one being Zambia and the death of 13 people in Zimbabwe nine years ago.
The incident occurred before the game began but the fixture was allowed to go ahead with the Ivorian team beating Malawi 5-0.
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