ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar (AP) French radio service RFI is reporting at least one person has died and 37 have been injured in a crush before an African Cup of Nations qualifying soccer game in Madagascar involving Sadio Mane‘s Senegal team.
RFI says a stampede happened before kickoff at the Mahamasina Municipal Stadium on Sunday.
Television pictures showed packed stands at the stadium, which has a capacity of around 22,000. Reports say thousands began queuing hours before kickoff in an attempt to get a ticket to watch Mane and Senegal’s other stars. It’s unclear if the crush happened inside or outside the stadium.
The Madagascar vs. Senegal qualifier went ahead and ended in a 2-2 draw.
RFI quoted a local hospital as saying one person was dead and 37 injured. The Madagascar ministry of sport also listed 37 injured on its Facebook page.
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A mad rush to get into a stadium in Madagascar has led to death of at least one spectator and injuries to over 30 more.
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The Stade de Mahamasina uses only one entrance. That’s a fatal flaw that should’ve been remedied long ago, and the stadium also saw two fans die and many more injured during a 2005 stampede to get into an already packed building.
The Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match went ahead as scheduled between Senegal and Madagascar. From the BBC:
Thousands of spectators were still trying to get into the stadium through the only entrance.
Two of those hurt are in a critical condition in the capital, Antananarivo.
Unfortunately, as the BBC notes, stadium stampedes are not a rarity.
The match finished 2-2, with Liverpool’s Sadio Mane and Stoke City’s Mame Diouf scoring for Senegal.
COSAFA, the 14 nation confederacy encompassing southern Africa, announced its unanimous support for challenger Ahmad Ahmad in the upcoming CAF presidential elections in March.
Current CAF president Issa Hayatou (pictured), who filled in as FIFA president in the immediate aftermath of Sepp Blatter’s ban and before the election of Gianni Infantino, has been in charge since his election in 1988 following the death of Yidnekatchew Tessema. He is seeking an eighth elected term.
Ahmad is the current head of the Madagascar FA, and announced last month he intended to run in the upcoming election.
Hayatou, at 70 years old, had planned to step down after this term due to CAF regulations that barred officials from holding office past 70, but with those regulations struck down in 2015, he changed his mind.
The announcement by COSAFA puts pressure on Hayatou, who now must find support elsewhere in the continent. However, it’s not terribly surprising, given that Madagascar is a member of COSAFA. Ahmad is not on the COSAFA executive committee, which is headed by Zimbabwe FA president Philip Chiyangwa.