Tragedy in the Ivory Coast. At least 19 people die after thousands stampede an overcrowded stadium in a World Cup qualifier.
An estimated 36,000 spectators were in the Houphouet-Boigny Arena in the capital city of Abidjan. This was the highly-anticipated game against Malawi and the return of soccer phenom Didier Drogba. Police fired tear gas into one section of the crowd to no avail. Dozens of fans were injured, some seriously.
According to Reuters, " 'Spectators who did not buy tickets were jostling before the match,' Sports Minister Dagobert Banzio said on state television. 'They smashed one of the main gates of the stadium. They were trampled.' "
The BBC reports the tragedy happened "before" the game began but the event went ahead. The Ivory Coast defeated Malawi 5-0.
Riots and crushes are unfortunately all-too-common at frequently overcrowded African soccer stadiums. Last September, 11 people were killed in a stadium riot in the Congo. In June, eight people died in a crush in Liberia.