Cote d'Ivoire : 2010 organisers offer condolences to victims of stadium accident

Johannesburg - The 2010 FIFA World Cup Local Organising Committee (LOC) has offered its condolences to the victims of the stadium stampede in Cote d'Ivoire on Monday.

Twenty soccer fans died and 130 were injured when people crowded into the Felix Houphouet-Boigny arena, 40 minutes before the FIFA World Cup/African Cup of Nations qualifier between Cote d'Ivoire and Malawi was scheduled to start.

The crowd began pushing against each other and police allegedly fired teargas into the crowd, setting off a panic that led to the stampede.

In a statement, the LOC expressed its heartfelt sorrow at news of the stadium accident in Abidjan.

"We would like to extend our most sincere condolences to the families of those who lost their lives under such tragic circumstances. We also offer our condolences to the injured and to the people of Cote d'Ivoire who are trying to take stock of this tragedy," said LOC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Danny Jordaan.

He said the organising committee would embark on a major spectator education campaign to ensure that fans coming to the FIFA Confederations Cup in June and the World Cup next year get to the games early.

"The gates will open three hours before the matches kick-off and this is when fans will be expected to arrive," said Mr Jordaan.

He added that the LOC hosted major sporting events on an almost weekly basis and have some of the best security personnel in the world working on the project to ensure that the safety of all those who attend the matches is guaranteed.

"We call on all countries involved in World Cup qualifiers to adopt best safety practice to ensure that the road to 2010 is safe and incident free," Mr Jordaan said. - BuaNews-Xinhua