At least eight fans died and 38 people were injured in a stampede at the Yaounde Olembe Stadium in Cameroon on Monday before the host nation’s round of 16 game in the Africa Cup of Nations against Comoros, the government said in a statement.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF), the continent’s soccer government body, said in a statement that it was investigating.
“CAF is currently investigating the situation and trying to get more details on what transpired. We are in constant communication with Cameroon government and the Local Organizing Committee,” it said.
Cameroon is hosting the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in 50 years. The Central African nation was meant to host the tournament in 2019 but the event was taken away from it that year and awarded to Egypt because of serious concerns with Cameroon’s preparations, particularly the readiness of its stadiums.
Following a low turnout in the first round games at brand new stadiums built for the continent’s premier men’s soccer tournament, Cameroon authorities have thrown open stadium gates, organized mass transport and given out free tickets to lure fans.
Olembe Stadium was one of the venues that was under scrutiny. It is the main stadium for the monthlong tournament and will stage three more games, including the final on Feb. 6.
Monday’s incident was the second serious blow to the country in the space of a day, after at least 17 people died when a fire set off a series of explosions at a nightclub in Yaounde on Sunday.
Following that incident, Cameroon President Paul Biya urged the country to be on guard while it hosts its biggest national sports event in a half century.
Cameroon won Monday’s game 2-1 to move on to the quarterfinals.