Sunday, March 29, 2009
WORLD CUP QUALIFERS, DISASTER IN ABIDJAN
A soccer fans' stampede at a World Cup qualifying match in Ivory Coast has killed at least 22 people with additional 132 wounded? Fans at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny sports arena in Abidjan pushed against each other at the entry turnstiles, shortly before the game between Ivory Coast and Malawi started, causing a wall to collapse, which set off a panic leading to a fatal stampede. Many of the Ivorians football fans, had trudged to the stadium to behold their soccer idol, Chelsea England's striker Didier Drogba who eventually scored twice in the 5-0 Ivorian defeat of visiting Malawians; before a 36, 000 stadium capacity crowd? The tragedy occurred shortly before the game began but the match was allowed to go on, notwithstanding the loss of lives? Whether even a minute of silence was observed for the departed was not ascertainable at the time of writing this commentary? Icheoku says if the death of 22 fans was not enough reason to postponed a match, how many more deaths therefore will it it take? Does it mean that African lives are not as valued as that of other peoples of the world to warrant a world cup qualifying match deferment; even for one day in honour of the fallen? Is the African life a lesser life that its loss has no effect in the thinking of FIFA, the world cup qualifiers organizing body? Icheoku condemns unequivocally, the non postponement of this match in respect of the dead as a wanton disregard for an African life? Whoever is the sports minister in Ivory Coast should resign his office in shame, for not doing enough to guard against such a disaster and for failing to persuade FIFA to defer the match in the honor of the dead fans?
The culprit, poor crowd control, which triggered the disaster at Abidjan was an avoidable happenstance, had the authorities in Abidjan put their acts together? This is a sign of what could possibly happen in South Africa 2010 but we hope the planning authorities for the 2010 sports fiesta will take a cue in crowd management to avoid similar fate as befell these Ivorians. Icheoku prays their bereaved families find the strength to bear the loss; and since the deceased died doing what they love, being fans to their home football team, possibly they wouldn't wish otherwise? Hopefully, the Ivory Coast national team makes it to the world cup football tournament, at least to honor their fans who perished today.