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Deadly Soccer Stampede Kills 19 in Ivory Coast


The Ivorian government has opened an investigation into a stampede that killed 19 people and left 132 injured before a World Cup qualifying match between Ivory Coast and Malawi Sunday in Abidjan.

Prime Minister Guillaume Soro convened an emergency Cabinet meeting to discuss the stampede. Officials say they plan to investigate what caused a wall to collapse as fans forced their way into a packed Houphouet-Boigny stadium.

The fans had overwhelmed security, and in the ensuing panic, police fired tear gas into the crowd.

FIFA is also demanding a full report from the Ivorian Football Federation and local authorities to establish what happened outside the stadium before the match.

This is the second deadly stampede to disrupt the 2010 qualifiers in Africa. In June, eight people died in Monrovia as spectators scrambled to get into an overcrowded stadium for a match between Liberia and The Gambia.

FIFA had already expressed concerned about the safety of soccer facilities across the continent and threatened that countries without adequate arenas would forfeit home advantage during preliminary matches for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

A FIFA audit in August 2007 found just 18 African nations out of the 50 they inspected had stadiums safe enough to host the World Cup qualifiers. Houphouet-Boigny stadium was judged safe for international matches.

FIFA also appointed a security officer for each World Cup qualifier, but African football officials have long complained that police refuse to cooperate and often unilaterally impose their own security plans on big matches.

While some families went from hospital to hospital in search of injured loved ones Monday, others spent the day at Abidjan's largest morgue identifying the bodies of their family members.

Sunday's match continued despite the disruption and Ivory Coast beat Malawi, 5-0.

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