Stampede At Nigeria/North Korea Soccer Match

Several fans could be seen falling under the rush of people, many wearing Nigeria shirts. The Makhulong Stadium seats about 10 000 fans.

“The crowd just overpowered me and I went down,” said Japhta Mombelo, who was bleeding from the head. “I fell down and people just fell over me.

“That crowd is overpowering. The police have told me to stay around and they will organise an ambulance but I am still waiting.”

The first rush came when the gates opened to allow fans into the stadium. Police soon closed the gates, but when they were reopened, a second rush occurred, with more people falling and being run over.

“When we were coming in they were just stepping on us,” said Princess Mbali, who was wearing a green South Africa shirt. “I thought I was dying. I was at the bottom.”

‘No one helped us’

Shortly after the second rush, the gates were closed again and much of the crowd dissipated.

“The police aren’t saying anything – just go and watch the match,” Mbali said. “How can we watch the match when we are hurt? Maybe my ribs are broken. No one is helping us and we are South Africans.”

A policeman was hurt in the crush and left bloodied. He was later taken away on a stretcher. Other fans who appeared to be lightly injured walked away from the scene as it calmed down.

The Nigeria and North Korean football teams were lining up for the national anthems when the second surge happened. They had no idea what was going on outside.

Such incidents frequently happen in football. Last year, FIFA fined Ivory Coast’s football federation $46 800 after 22 people died in a stampede at a World Cup qualifying match.

World Cup security was not in place at the match because it was a friendly, but one policeman blamed FIFA for the trouble.

“FIFA made the tickets free and now look,” said the police officer, who refused to identified because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

“FIFA wanted them free.” AP