Mon, 06 February 2023
The Daily Ittefaq

Fatal stampede at Gulf Cup final in Iraq, dozens also hurt

Update : 19 Jan 2023, 21:22

Iraqi authorities said at least one person was killed in a stampede at a stadium in Basra ahead of the final of the Gulf Cup football competition. Hosts Iran reached the final, prompting increased interest.

Medics and Iraq's Interior Ministry on Thursday said that one person had been killed and around 60 people had sustained "slight injuries" in a stampede outside a football stadium in the southern city of Basra.

The crush occurred as fans tried to gain entry for the Gulf Cup final, with host nation Iraq qualifying to face Oman.

Kick off was scheduled for 7 p.m. local time (1600 UTC/GMT).

The stampede took place several hours prior to kickoff, officials said fans had been queuing up since dawn. Photo: DW

"A large number of fans, many of them without tickets, had gathered since first light to try to get in," an interior ministry official said.

The ministry issued a statement urging fans without tickets to leave the area. It said the game was sold out, the stadium was already full, and the gates had been closed.

Iraqi stadium security team members carry an injured football fan into an emergency area at the Basra International Stadium following a stampede ahead of this evening's final match of the Arabian Gulf Cup between Iraq and Oman, on January 19, 2023 in Basra. Iraqi stadium security team members carry an injured football fan into an emergency area at the Basra International Stadium following a stampede ahead of this evening's final match of the Arabian Gulf Cup between Iraq and Oman, on January 19, 2023 in Basra.

The stampede took place several hours prior to kickoff, officials said fans had been queuing up since dawnImage: Hussein FALEH/AFP

The Associated Press cited a physician at Basra Hospital as saying a second person had died of their injuries. He was speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to talk to the media. The Al Jazeera online news portal reported four fatalities.

Iraq's Prime Minister Shia al-Sudani arrived in Basra on Thursday for the game. He urged people to cooperate with authorities in order to "show the final match of the 25th edition of the Gulf Cup in its most beautiful form."

The Iraqi News Agency later reported that giant screens had been erected in public spaces in Basra, and at another stadium in the city — in a bid to let fans without tickets watch the game together. It also reported that some of the injured were in critical condition, rather than having sustained slight injuries.

Injured football spectators are brought into an emergency area at the Basra International Stadium following a stampede ahead of this evening's final match of the Arabian Gulf Cup between Iraq and Oman, on January 19, 2023 in Basra.Injured football spectators are brought into an emergency area at the Basra International Stadium following a stampede ahead of this evening's final match of the Arabian Gulf Cup between Iraq and Oman, on January 19, 2023 in Basra.

Oman's Football Association said citizens currently at Basra Airport would start returning home for their own safety and to help Iraqi authorities make the final "successful." Oman's Foreign Ministry issued condolences to the Iraqi government and people, wishing the injured a speedy recovery.

The tournament includes teams from six Gulf Cooperation Council countries — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — as well as Yemen and Iraq.

Iraq had not hosted the tournament since winning the inaugural Gulf Cup at home in 1979; it was banned from hosting international football matches on multiple occasions in recent decades, mostly due to actions of former dictator Saddam Hussein or because of security concerns in the country. The most recent sanction of this nature was lifted last year.

 
 
 

More on this topic

More on this topic