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Thursday, 12 April, 2001, 09:19 GMT 10:19 UK
SA tragedy: Accident waiting to happen
Father and son look at bodies on the pitch
South Africa's football authorities will have to re-examine their stadium safety
By South African football journalist Mark Gleeson

South African football will need to take a long hard look at its modus operandi and its culture of attendance when the sobering reality of Wednesday night's tragedy kicks in.


Once inside it is a virtual free-for-all

When government officials meet the football hierarchy on Thursday to start a thorough investigation of the incident, they will have to be mindful of the fact that violence at football grounds is a fairly regular occurrence in the country.

Spectators who are unable to get into matches routinely attempt to force they way into games that are already overcrowded.

That is what happened in Johannesburg on Wednesday with thousands outside Ellis Park stadium breaking through the barriers and crushing those already inside.

South African television broadcast special bulletins in the early hours of the morning showing a flood of spectators being taken to trauma centres and three hospitals in the Johannesburg area.

Logistics

Much of this would not have happened with proper ticker sales and stewarding inside the stadium.

South African clubs do not like to sell their tickets through established agencies ahead of the matches because they lose a percentage of the takings.

Ellis Stadium
Tens of thousands were crammed into the stadium
Furthermore, fans are not in the habit of pre-buying their seats.

Instead they tend to arrive at the stadium and purchase the tickets on the spot.

Once inside it is a virtual free-for-all, even in a modern stadium like Ellis Park with its own security force and numbered seats.

There are also thousands that slip through the turnstiles bribing gate officials with cash rather than waiting in the queue to buy tickets.

Simple security measures and planning would have averted the tragedy.

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See also:

10 Jul 00 | Africa
Zimbabwe stadium deaths inquiry
30 Dec 00 | Americas
Fence collapse hits soccer final
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