FIFA, LOC distance themselves from stampede

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pretoria - FIFA and the Local Organising committee (LOC) are firm that they were not involved in organising a friendly match between Nigeria and North Korea on Sunday that led to a stampede.

The situation became chaotic at Makhulong Stadium in Tembisa when fans arrived with free tickets for the match and started pushing against the gates to gain entrance to the stadium.

"FIFA and the OC would like to reiterate that this friendly match has no relation whatsoever with the operational organisation of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, for which we remain fully confident.

"Contrary to some media reports, FIFA had nothing to do with the ticketing of this game," FIFA said in a statement.

According to the police's National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) the friendly match between Nigeria and Korea DPR was arranged by a private company.

Tickets were apparently handed out by the teams outside the Makhulong Stadium, NATJOINTS said in a statement.

"Initial reports from the stadium, which is not a 2010 FIFA World Cup stadium, indicate that 10 000 tickets were distributed outside the stadium but a number of fans wanted to enter the stadium without tickets.

"It would seem that there was also some confusion among the crowd as to the ticketing system which led to disruptive behaviour on the part of the crowd," NATJOINTS added.

Police implemented crowd management measures but fans became unruly and pushed against the gates, twice forcing them open.

A police officer, who was trampled by the crowd, was seriously injured while another police official was slightly injured but remained on duty.

"Emergency Medical Services reported that 14 spectators were transported to hospital with minor injuries. The police official is in a stable condition. Police reinforcements were called to the stadium and calm was restored," NATJOINTS said.

Despite the stampede, the match went on with the Super Eagles beating North Korea 3-1. The Super Eagles are looking forward to their potentially explosive Group B opener against Argentina at Coca-Cola Park on 12 June.