Fifa probes Ivory Coast stampede

Fifa has ordered an investigation into a stadium crush in Abidjan in which at least 19 people were killed and a further 132 injured before a World Cup qualifier between Ivory Coast and Malawi on Sunday.

Fifa has ordered an investigation into a stadium crush in Abidjan in which at least 19 people were killed and a further 132 injured before a World Cup qualifier between Ivory Coast and Malawi on Sunday.

A brief statement yesterday from world soccer's governing body said Fifa had requested a full report from the Ivorian Football Federation and local authorities to "establish the sequence of events that happened outside the stadium before the match".

"Once this report has been received, Fifa will be in a position to make further comment, as well as continue our efforts to ensure that such tragic circumstances do not happen again," it added.

The crush occurred after part of a wall collapsed when ticketless fans stormed one of the entrances to the 45000-capacity Houphouet-Boigny arena.

The Ivory Coast government said yesterday it was holding a crisis meeting to determine responsibility for the deaths.

"We want to find out exactly who is responsible for the origin of this drama," government spokesperson Sindou Meite said.

Despite a bid by Fifa to force the improvement of stadium facilities across the continent - a Fifa audit in August 2007 found just 18 African nations had soccer stadiums safe enough to allow World Cup qualifiers to be hosted - the crush in Abidjan is the second such incident in the 2010 qualifiers in Africa.

In June, eight people were killed in a crush in Liberia as spectators jostled to get into an already overcrowded stadium in Monrovia for the match between Liberia and the Gambia. - Reuters

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