06.02.08 10 years ago 15 Comments

Sunday's World Cup qualifier between host Liberia (motto: "Where descendants of freed slaves kill freely") and Gambia ("Come for our lions, stay because you're dead") turned ugly when overcrowding caused at least eight deaths.

Hours before the start of the match, United Nations peacekeepers had closed the gates of the stadium when it became clear that the stadium was beyond capacity. Thousands of people entered using fraudulent tickets, stranding real ticket holders outside. Stadium officials could not differentiate between the real and fake tickets and had allowed too many people to enter before they realized their mistake…

The 33,000-seat Samuel K. Doe stadium in Monrovia was packed beyond capacity for the World Cup qualifying match. The rowdy crowd pushed up against a metal bar, causing the bar to snap and sending dozens of people careening onto the floor below. They fell onto others at the game, crushing them.

And yet, stadium concessions fed a lot of people, no one got AIDS from a 14-year-old hooker, and not one fan got hacked to pieces by machete-wielding militia.  The fact that only 8 people died out of so many thousands made it the fourth safest place in Africa yesterday. 

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