Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Warm-up match stampede a wake-up call

"We have security plans that are there," said Col. Hangwani Mulaudzi, another police spokesman. "I think this is one of those isolated cases where we did not anticipate the large number of people who would be interested in this game."

SHOOT: I think SA will be caught napping in a bunch of areas, unfortunately. It's not really a 1st world country any more.
clipped from news.yahoo.com
South African Police officers patrol as the bus of France soccer players arrives for a training session in Knysna, South Africa, Monday, June 7, 2010.

JOHANNESBURG – No one was killed. Most of the injuries were minor. Yet a stampede at a supposedly low-key warm-up match set off alarms for World Cup organizers as they reassessed their plans for keeping fervent sellout crowds under control.

Hopes for a safe tournament remain high, officials said Monday. But the scary incident at a Nigeria-North Korea exhibition match was a stark reminder of past stadium disasters, in Africa and elsewhere, that have been one of soccer's recurring and deadly legacies.

"This is like an alarm clock," FIFA president Sepp Blatter said. "This will not happen in any match of the World Cup — you can be assured."

In Orkney, South Africa, 42 fans were killed in a melee and stampede at a 1991 match between the archrival Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs. Ten years later, when those same teams met at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, 43 people were killed and 155 injured as fans — many arriving without tickets — tried to push into the overcrowded stadium.

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