Home » Football History » They went to a match and never came back (Part Eighteen)

They went to a match and never came back (Part Eighteen)

Concluding the series that looks at those thankfully rare times in football history when fans went to a football match but never made it home afterwards.

For Part One click here; Part Two here; Part Three here; Part Four here; Part Five here; Part Six here; Part Seven here;  Part Eight here; Part Nine here; Part Ten here, part Eleven here, part Twelve here; part Thirteen here, part Fourteen here; part Fifteen here, Part Sixteen here and Part Seventeen here).

Sometimes the underlying reasons for a  tragedy may seem strange to outsiders. That was certainly the case in Congo in September 2008.

Matokeo Stadium Riot. Butembo, DR Congo

Two local clubs, Socozaki and Nyuki System were scheduled to meet  in a friendly match at the Matokeo Stadium in the Eastern part of the DR Congo.

However, before the match rumours began to circulate that one player was enlisting the help of witchcraft in order to help his team win.

When trouble began to break out among the supporters, panicked fans ran towards the exits in a bid to escape the escalating violence.

The police, in a bid to restore order fired guns in the air, partly to protect their commander who had been hit and wounded in the head by rioting fans.

That caused even more confusion, somebody tripped and fell, and in the ensuing stampede, 13 people died and 36 more were injured. Nearly all the victims were aged between 11 and 16.

Yaoundé Stadium Tragedy, Cameroon

The most recent stadium disaster also occurred in Africa, and that was just five months ago in Cameroon, when eight people were killed and 28 injured in a crush before a match in the African Cup of Nations involving the hosts.

The stadium in Yaoundé normally has a capacity of 60,000 but Covid restrictions meant that was reduced to 80% for the knock-out match against the Comoros islands.

A crush developed outside the grounds as fans with tickets were waving them in the air as they grew increasingly frustrated at the slow speed of entry. And they were joined by many who did not have tickets but who hoped somehow to gain access to the stadium.

Fans got crushed against one of the gates, whilst images on social media showed supporters clambering over fences and trampling on unconscious supporters. Others showed some trying to resuscitate unconscious fans.

Two boys aged eight  and fourteen were among the fatalities.

Concluding Remarks

Although advances in stadium design and greater public awareness, means that stadiums are much safer than they used to be, that does not mean that another major stadium tragedy in the future can be ruled out.

Only one tragedy in this series had its root cause in a natural disaster – a freak hailstorm in Kathmandu, but even then, it was compounded by human error, and poor policing.

And that is the underlying message. Whenever human beings are involved, mistakes can and will be made, and the police, and those tasked with maintaining order, can often make the situation worse by their actions.

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