The Cameroonian government said in a statement that at least 8 fans were killed and 38 injured in a stampede at the Yaoundé Olympic Stadium in Cameroon, ahead of the host country’s match against Comoros in the last 16 of the African Nations Cup on Monday.
Pictures circulated on social media, whose authenticity has not yet been verified by Reuters, showed screaming fans being crushed at a narrow gate to enter Yaounde’s new Olympic stadium, which was hosting the match.
A video clip showed dozens of fans rushing over the stadium fence, while a police officer walked past the fence.
This incident came as a major blow to the tournament, which increased its excitement in recent days thanks to some surprises, but was threatened with postponement, or cancellation, due to the lack of good preparation of the host country.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) said in a statement that it was aware of an incident that occurred at the stadium.
“CAF is currently investigating the situation and is trying to obtain more details about what happened. We are in constant contact with the Cameroonian government and the local organizing committee,” the statement said.
CAF President Patrice Motsepe announced today, Tuesday, that it was decided to move the next match, which was supposed to be held at the Yaoundé Olympic Stadium.
This stadium was supposed to host a quarter-final match next Sunday, but CAF announced the transfer of this confrontation to the Ahmedou Ahidjo Stadium, located in Yaounde.
Scenes from the tragedy
Vanessa Chuanze, a teacher, came to the stadium to watch the game on Monday night, accompanied by her friend Veronique, who is also a teacher. Vanessa was barely able to speak as she recounted her experience.
When entering the stadium, fans were still heading to the gates moments before the start of the match, while some were waiting for Covid-19 tests.
While Vanessa was trying to enter the stadium, fans rushed to the gates, without any action from the gatekeepers who check tickets, in an attempt to reach the stadium.
“The crowd pushed the gates and everyone started entering in droves,” Vanessa said. “The police were present, but the rush of spectators was even stronger.”
Vanessa and Veronique fell to the ground from the rush, losing consciousness before one of them pulled her away from the crowd.
Minutes later, Vanessa found her friend Veronique on the floor, unconscious due to a weak pulse. She was rushed to the hospital, but she died soon after.
“She couldn’t stand the shock, all these people falling on top of her,” Vanessa said in tears.
The government has not provided any information about the cause of the stampede or whether fans were allowed into the stadium without tickets. It was not clear why the match started after the disaster.
Among the most prominent moments that angered the fans later, the exaggerated celebrations of the former international star and the current head of the Cameroon Federation, Samuel Eto’o, when scoring goals during the match.
Eto’o’s celebrations came uncalculated, not in line with the scale of the disaster that occurred before the match, and he seemed indifferent to what happened at the stadium gates hours ago.