News   |    January 27th, 2022

AFCON Tragedy

Nobody wants to see tragic events in history repeat themselves. It is important to learn lessons from the tragedies that do occur so we can take effective action to prevent them from happening again. Sadly, similar to the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 where some 97 innocent football fans lost their lives, AFCON has now fallen victim to the latest tragedy, with 8 fatalities and 38 more injured in hospital. This occurred at the Yaounde Olembe Stadium at a fixture between Cameroon and Comoros.

First and foremost, on behalf of Integral Sports Management, we send our deepest condolences to the families and victims of this horrible disaster. No one should go to a football match and never come home. So, how and why did this happen? Why after 33 years of evolved technology, knowledge and safety measures are we still seeing catastrophes like this?

In 2019, Cameroon was scheduled to host the AFCON tournament. However, there were serious concerns over Cameroon’s preparations, predominantly the readiness and safety of the stadiums. In particular, the Yaounde OlembeStadium was one of the venues that was under scrutiny.Subsequently, the tournament was awarded to Egypt to host due to the extensive concerns with Cameroon’s construction capabilities. Fast forward to 2022, and the Yaounde OlembeStadium is the main stadium for the month-long tournament and is due to stage three more games, including the final on February 6.

Not only do we have a history of concerns with the stadiums and how safely constructed and fit for purpose they are, but also the security set up too. Officials stated that the game was only due to be 80% full due to Covid rules, and with a capacity of 60,000 this should be 48,000 allowed to attend. It is reported that approximately 50,000 fans showed up trying to enter the stadium. In response security shut the barriers, alas leading to fans being crushed whilst entering the stadium. 

It appears this is a combination of poor construction, alongside a miscalculation of attendees, defined by a lack of strategy and emergency action plan to accommodate and/or prevent overcrowding.  President of the Confederation of African Football Patrice Motsepe says there should be a collective responsibility and reassures the public that himself, alongside all involved governing bodies are looking into this matter in fine detail immediately.

Ultimately, all sporting environments should be safe, positiveand enjoyable. In this era, we should not be allowing disasters like this to happen. Investigations are ongoing and of course, there is likely to be more information to come to light thus helping to explain why this happened. For now, at least, health and safety, the government, AFCON, FIFA and any other stakeholders must work together to prevent this ever happening again.

Alfie Bobbins - Integral Sports Management

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