A crush outside the stadium where Cameroon were playing Comoros in the Africa Cup of Nations has left eight people dead. What do we know about what happened?
Hi, Iâ€™m Chloe and this is the Playmaker.
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Todayâ€¦ how â€śkeeping up appearancesâ€ť could have caused a tragedy.
It was supposed to be one of footballâ€™s wonderful underdog stories.Â
But instead it turned into a terrible tragedy.Â
On Monday night, Africa Cup of Nations hosts Cameroon played Comoros.Â
If youâ€™ve not heard of Comoros, thatâ€™s because this was their first ever tournament.Â Â
They made it through to the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations after a dramatic 3-2 win over Ghana.Â
And with all of their goalkeepers either ruled out with injuries or Covid, they had to field a left-back in goal.Â
They did brilliantly well. They scored a stunning free-kick and only lostÂ 2-1 to hosts Cameroon, a side that has played in four World Cup tournaments.
That story deserves to be told.Â
But tragically it is what happened outside the stadium where attention is now focused.
After the game reports began to emerge that people had lost their lives trying to get in to watch the matchâ€¦
â€śBut first, at least six people have died with dozens more injured in a stampede outside the Olembe stadium in the Cameroon capital Yaounde. It happened before last nightâ€™s round of 16 between Cameroon and Comoros as crowds struggled to gain access to the stadium. The governor of the region has warned there may be more fatalitiesâ€¦â€ťÂSky Sports News
How did itÂ happen?Â
And does it raise questions about whether Cameroon was ready to host a major tournament?
Patrice Motsepe is the President of the Confederation of African Footballâ€¦ CAF. Heâ€™s a billionaire. He made his money from mining precious metals in South Africa.Â
In December, he visited the Olembe stadium. He was asked by a reporter whether the facilities in Cameroon would be ready.
â€śWe are ready to show the world the best of African football, but also the best of African hospitality and the best ofâ€¦ we are Africans that are a caring and a loving people. So itâ€™s gonna be a successful AFCON. The most successful.â€ť
â€śIn January? When the people?
â€śWellâ€¦ Iâ€™m here from January 7th. And if Iâ€™m here January 7â€¦ Iâ€™m here sevenâ€¦ everybody must be here seven. So come January 9, they must kick offâ€ťLim Sports Zone
President Motsepe dodged the question and scolded those he said had â€śskeptical, negative views.â€ť
Yet bulldozers were still digging access roads at the entrance to the stadiumâ€¦ the day after his visit.
It seems like President Motsepeâ€™s optimism may have been misplaced. And it had tragic consequences.Â
Before a ball had even been kicked, Motsepe was under pressure to postpone the tournament altogether.Â
Violent separatist groups had been seeking independence for the English-speaking parts of Cameroon.Â
â€śOn Wednesday, a bomb went off and that was just less than a week ago and another bomb had wentâ€¦er gone off in Limbe and a lot of people that we spoke to in the city say that they fear that the separatists may carry a bomb into the stadiumâ€¦.â€ťDW Sports
Workers raised concerns in the press about their treatmentâ€¦ and they warned that the stadium would not be readyÂ in time for the first match .Â
And of course, Covid presented another challenge to the Cameroonian authorities.Â
Supporters had to show proof of vaccination to enterÂ the stadium. Attendances were capped at 60 percent of capacity, except when Cameroon were playing, when crowds of 80 percent were allowed.
But the problem doesnâ€™t seem to have been caused by those with a ticket for the match.
It transpired that officials had actively encouraged people without tickets to come and queue to gain entry for the stadium, so people watching on TV could seeÂ it filled with people.
Hereâ€™s an eyewitness account from journalist Simon Harding.
â€śCameroonian authorities recently asked anyone who didnâ€™t have a ticket and who lined up outside could come in for free once all the tickets or erâ€¦members of the public who had tickets were able to go inside the stadium and that is where we believe the stampede happenedâ€¦where people were trying to enter the ground for free to watch Cameroon. Thereâ€™s been a lot of injuriesâ€¦an unconfirmed amount of deathsâ€¦â€ťFrance 24
It was the first time that the stadium had seen crowds this large. And it didnâ€™t stand up to the test.Â
The deaths and injuries occurred before the matchâ€¦ and another separate incident could have happened afterwards too.
â€śPerhaps the authorities werenâ€™t quite prepared for what happenedâ€¦what I can tell you is when we exited the ground, every exit was blocked and people were still pressed up against fences and suchâ€¦â€ťFrance 24
CAF President Patrice Motsepe has ordered an investigation into what went wrong, as has Cameroonâ€™s President Paul Biya.Â
But as you heard, Patrice Motsepe actively discouraged any questions about concerns over whether Cameroon was ready to host a tournament.Â
He wanted the show to go onâ€¦. and there was to be no â€śskepticismâ€ť or â€śnegativityâ€ť.
Yet President Motsepeâ€™s desire to keep up appearances to the outside worldâ€¦ has sadly ended in tragedy.Â
Todayâ€™s story was written by Chloe Beresford, and produced by Imy Harper.