Fake tickets, unticketed fans blamed for S.Africa stadium crush
South African officials on Sunday said ticketless fans and fake ticket-holders were to blame for the death of two supporters who were trampled underfoot at the country's showcase soccer stadium.
The macabre event occurred on Saturday at the FNB stadium in Johannesburg, where the 2010 World Cup final was held.
Jacques Grobbelaar, CEO of the company that manages the stadium, said dozens of fans who held counterfeit tickets or no tickets at all, forced their way through an emergency gate after distracting security for several minutes.
Two people were then trampled to death by fellow fans, he said.
The incident happened 20 minutes before the start of a pre-season local derby on Saturday between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, the country’s most popular teams.
“In the preliminary investigations and after scrutinising video material, we have determined that it wasn’t a stampede in any way,” he told AFP.
“A group of about 150 (fans) was going from gate-to-gate unticketed, distracting security, trying to breach the perimeter fence.
“They managed to break one emergency gate open and they walked, they literally walked, through the gate,” he said.
“It appears two people fell down and the rest of the people walked over those people, causing blunt force trauma,” he added.
Twenty people were wounded, one of them seriously.
Grobbelaar said he had alerted the police on Thursday after hearing there were fake tickets on sale.
Immediately after the event, stadium officials assessed the situation but decided to go ahead with the game.
“Under normal circumstances you would cancel an event …(when) someone has died at the venue. But we had to deal with 87,000 people already inside the stadium,” he said.
The stadium has an official capacity of 94,000.
“We looked at the risk …and we thought from a risk perspective, the risk will be smaller if we do not evacuate the venue.
“From a moral perspective I feel that maybe we made a wrong decision,” Grobbelaar admitted.
The match was won 1-0 by the Kaizer Chiefs.
The two worst football tragedies in South Africa involved matches between the same clubs — in 2001 when 43 people were killed, and in 1991, when the death toll was 42.