FIFA fines Ivory Coast after 22 fans die at venue

Updated: 22 July 2009 16:10 IST

FIFA fined Ivory Coast's football federation on Wednesday after 22 people died in a stampede at a World Cup qualifying match in March.

FIFA fines Ivory Coast after 22 fans die at venue

Zurich:

FIFA fined Ivory Coast's football federation on Wednesday after 22 people died in a stampede at a World Cup qualifying match in March.

The global governing body imposed a fine of 50,000 Swiss francs ($46,800; euro33,000) along with restrictions on the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan when it next hosts a World Cup qualifier.

The fans died and more than 130 were injured at the overcrowded stadium before Ivory Coast played Malawi on March 29.

Ivory Coast will next play Burkina Faso on September 5 with attendance limited to 20,000 in the 34,600-capacity Felix Houphouet-Boigny venue.

"In the event of any similar incidents, FIFA would have no choice but to impose more severe sanctions on the Ivorian Football Association," FIFA said in a statement.

FIFA investigators spoke with Ivorian police, football and government officials but the disciplinary ruling did not blame anyone.

The arena was packed with spectators drawn to see Chelsea striker Didier Drogba return from England to play for Ivory Coast.

The crush set off a panic 40 minutes before kickoff. Witnesses said fans rushed toward the field, causing a wall to come down and setting off a stampede.

Other eyewitnesses reported that panic spread after police fired tear gas, while some said security officers encouraged overcrowding by taking money from fans without tickets to let them enter.

The match went ahead as scheduled as the first to be played in the final phase of combined qualifying for the 2010 World Cup and African Cup of Nations. Ivory Coast won 5-0 with Drogba scoring twice.

FIFA has also ordered that traffic barriers must be erected one kilometer (0.62 mile) from the stadium and checkpoints at least 100 meters (yards) from the stadium to control the flow of spectators.

"The total capacity of the stadium will only be allowed in subsequent matches if the above-mentioned measures are applied for each match," the ruling said.

Since the tragedy, FIFA has increased referees' powers to delay kickoff times at international matches.

"All future matches will not be allowed to kick off until the designated FIFA security officer is satisfied with all aspects of stadium safety and security," it said Wednesday.

FIFA said it has donated 100,000 Swiss francs ($93,600; euro66,000) to support families of the victims.

The Ivory Coast government has opened its own investigation into the tragedy.

Topics : Football France Mexico South Africa Republic of Ireland Federation Internationale de Football Association
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