African Football: 5 Worst Stadium Tragedies in Africa

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When sports fans go to stadiums to support their teams, the last thing on their minds is a stampede or disaster. Unfortunately, some went to support their teams but never went back home. Stadium tragedies in Africa have been caused by a number of things, from poor crowd management to a violent fan base. In this article, we look at the worst stadium tragedies in Africa.

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Accra Sports Stadium – Ghana

On 9 May 2001, 127 fans died at the Accra Sports Stadium. They’d gone to watch one of the biggest matches in the Ghanaian league between Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak. The game ended in favor of Hearts of Oak. 

A section of the Asante Kotoko fans weren’t pleased with the result and turned violent. The police fired teargas to disperse the crowd and the ensuing stampede led to the deaths of 127 people. According to reports, 116 deaths were caused by asphyxia and other trauma. 

A report into the disaster blamed the police for acting recklessly. Six officers were charged with manslaughter, but later, the court ruled that the stampede was the direct cause of the deaths, not the tear gas.

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Ellis Park Stadium – South Africa

43 people lost their lives at the Ellis Park Stadium on 11 April 2011. This disaster, dubbed the worst in South Africa’s history, happened during the Soweto Derby when Orlando Pirates were playing Kaizer Chiefs.

Ellis Park Stadium can only hold 60,000 fans. Reports indicate that up to 120,000 fans were allowed entry into the stadium. When Orlando scored, a strong push among the fans led to fans going to a restricted area. Authorities fired tear gas, which led to a stampede and panic. 

A report done after the incident blamed corrupt stadium officials for allowing fans in without match tickets.

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Oppenheimer Stadium – South Africa

The Soweto Derby, a match between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, led to the loss of 42 lives. It’s the second-worst stadium disaster in the history of South African sports. 

Up to 30,000 fans walked into a stadium that was only supposed to hold 23,000 people. A referring decision in favor of Kaizer Chiefs saw Orlando Pirates fans attack Chiefs fans. 

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This led to a stampede as they tried to run away, but due to the congestion and barriers in the stands, 42 people were crushed to death.

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Port Said Stadium – Egypt

In February 2012, an Egyptian Premier League game between Al Ahly and Al Masri led to the death of 74 people. Al Masri fans hosted Al Ahly at the Port Said Stadium and attacked the visiting fans after their victory. They were armed with weapons like knives and swords.

73 Al Masri fans were charged, 26 were acquitted, and 47 were convicted. The stadium authorities were also blamed for the high death toll as they refused to open the gates for fans to escape. Two police officers were sentenced to five years.

The government completely shut down football in the country for two years. Only national and international football was allowed and played behind closed doors. 

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Zamalek Stadium – Egypt

On 17 February 1974, between 48 and 50 football fans attended a friendly match between Dukla Prague and Zamalek SC and died even before the game began. Zamalek Stadium couldn’t accommodate all the fans but more than 80,000 fans squeezed themselves in the 40,000 stadium. This led to the collapse of the facility and a stampede.

Sadly, some people have lost their lives supporting their teams. What is supposed to be an enjoyable day out ends in tragedy. 

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