Cameroon: Stampede at ‘Africa Cup of Nations’ Soccer Match Kills Eight

This picture taken on January 25, 2022 shows the entrance of Olembe stadium in Yaounde at

At least eight people died from injuries sustained during a stampede at a soccer stadium in Cameroon’s capital, Yaoundé, on Monday, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

The incident occurred on January 24 at the southern entrance to Olembe Stadium as it hosted an Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) soccer match between Cameroon and Comoros. Moments before the game started, “ticket collectors became overwhelmed by a rush of people trying to get into the ground before kick-off,” Reuters detailed on January 25.

The outlet cited the eyewitness account of Vanessa Tchouanzi, a Cameroonian school teacher and survivor of the stampede.

“They shoved the gate and people started coming in droves. The police were there, but the mass of people was stronger,” she recounted.

Tchouanzi said she and her friend, another Cameroonian woman named Veronique, “were knocked to the ground” by the mass of people that suddenly stormed the stadium gate.

“Squeezed by the rush, Tchouanzi lost consciousness before someone pulled her up and away from the crowd,” Reuters relayed.

“A few minutes later, Tchouanzi found Veronique on the ground, unresponsive with a weak pulse. She was rushed to hospital but died soon after,” according to the news agency.

“She couldn’t take the shock, the weight of all those people,” Tchouanzi told Reuters.

Veronique was one of eight people killed by the stampede at Olembe Stadium on Monday night, according to the Cameroon government’s latest tally.

“Eight deaths were recorded, two women in their 30s, four men in their 30s, one child, one body taken away by the family,” Agence France-Presse (AFP) revealed on January 25 citing a preliminary health report by Cameroon’s health ministry.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF), Africa’s soccer governing body, said Tuesday it had already launched an investigation into the incident. The probe will center on “who closed the [southern] gate” at Olembe Stadium, CAF president Patrice Motsepe told reporters at a press conference on January 25.

A worker walks near the entrance of Olembe stadium in Yaounde at the scene of the stampede on January 25, 2022. 9 KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty)

Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Patrice Motesepe speaks during a press conference on January 25, 2022 at Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium in Yaounde. Eight people were killed and many more injured in a crush outside a Cameroonian football stadium on January 24, 2022 ahead of an Africa Cup of Nations match. (KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images)

“If [the gate] was open, [spectators] would have walked through and it was closed for inexplicable reasons,” Motsepe said.

“If that gate was open as it was supposed to we wouldn’t have had this loss of life,” he added.

Olembe Stadium has a capacity of 60,000, though Cameroon’s government has limited the number of spectators allowed in the stadium during soccer events over the past two years citing concerns over transmission of the Chinese coronavirus.

“The cap is raised to 80 percent when Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions play,” AFP noted of an exception to the cap on Tuesday.

Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions were set to play on the evening of January 23 when the stampede occurred. Maher Mezahi, a reporter for Al Jazeera who attended the soccer match at Olembe Stadium between Cameroon and Comoros, described seeing a “nearly full” stadium on Monday night.

“I can tell you that tonight, there was absolutely more than 80 percent at the stadium. That it was nearly full,” Maher said in a video interview with Al Jazeera published on January 25.

“Following a low turnout in the first round games at brand new stadiums, Cameroon authorities have thrown open stadium gates, organised mass transport and given out free tickets to lure fans,” Reuters noted on Tuesday of Cameroon’s handling of the Africa Cup of Nations 2022.

The Central African nation is hosting the latest edition of the soccer tournament — Africa’s main international men’s association football competition — through February 6. Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions played on despite Monday night’s stampede and won the match to proceed onto the quarter-finals of the sporting event.

“Cameroon was initially meant to host the Africa Cup of Nations in 2019, but the event was moved to Egypt over concerns Cameroon’s stadiums were not prepared for the games,” AFP recalled on January 25.

“The CAF cited delays in the construction of stadiums and infrastructure projects, as well as question marks over security,” according to news agency.


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