World Cup: Nigeria versus North Korea: 20 people injured, 13 hospitalized in free ticket stampede. The first World Cup to be played on African soil suffered a major negative incident Sunday when at least 20 people were injured, 13 of them hospitalized, including one policeman who was seriously wounded in Johannesburg after thousands of fans stampeded to get into the friendly tune-up match between Nigeria and North Korea.
The extent of the injuries was not immediately known. The stampede was said to be caused by the fact that tickets were not required and entrance to the stadium was free.
World Cup security measures were not in place for the game, and one policeman afterward blamed FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, for the incident.
“FIFA made the tickets free and now look,” the unidentified policeman said. “FIFA wanted them free.”
Fans fell in the crush of people trying to enter the Makhulong Stadium in the northern part of the city. The stadium has a capacity of about 10,000.
“The crowd just overpowered me and I went down,” one fan, who was bleeding from the head, told reporters on the scene. “I fell down and people just fell over me.”
Police on duty at the stadium were trying to call ambulances to take the injured to hospital
“I thought I was dying. I was at the bottom,” another fan said.
There were two rushes, the first when the gates opened, and the second when the first melee had been cleared and the gates opened again.
There was no immediate comment from FIFA or from World Cup organizers about the incident.
Check here for more details later as they become available.
— Grahame L. Jones reporting from Johannesburg
Times wire services contributed to this report.