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The BBC's Rachael Payne
"Many of those injured say the police overreacted"
 real 56k

Steve Vickers, Zimbabwean sports journalist
"There were some rather irrational reactions from the police"
 real 28k

The BBC's Grant Ferrett hears fans' reactions
"What the police did to us was inhuman - it wasn't about football, it was about politics"
 real 28k

Monday, 10 July, 2000, 10:27 GMT 11:27 UK
Zimbabwe stadium deaths inquiry
Players lie on the field
Players lay down to try to avoid the tear gas
Zimbabwean football officials have begun an inquiry into Sunday's tragedy in which 12 spectators died in a stampede at Harare's National Stadium.

The stampede - which reportedly left three children among the dead - occurred after police fired tear gas at the crowd during an international match between South Africa and Zimbabwe.

The trouble followed a second goal from the visiting South African side - with Zimbabwe still trying to score, fans began throwing bottles and other missiles onto the pitch.

The BBC correspondent in Harare says many people believe there was a political aspect to the police action - some of the crowd had chanted the slogan of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change during the match.

Zimbabwe crowd
Fans tried to escape as police fired teargas
Zimbabwean radio said the dead included five adult women, four adult men, and three boys aged 16, 11 and eight.

Medical officials said many people were injured and the number of dead could rise.

Most of the deaths were from internal injuries consistent with being crushed, a doctor said.

The board of the Zimbabwe Football Association is holding an emergency meeting on Monday to look into the causes of the incident.

Match abandoned

South Africa had just gone 2-0 up in the 84th minute when the trouble erupted.

South Africa football
South Africa (in white) won the match 2-0

Delron Buckley had just scored his second goal when he fell to the ground holding his injured left ankle, and bottles began to fly on to the pitch.

Police responded by firing tear gas canisters into the near-capacity 60,000 crowd, who raced to the exits.

"There were a number of people in the crowd around me who were giving the MDC salute and shouting slogans," a spectator told Reuters.

The match was abandoned, as players from both teams lay face down on the pitch, and received treatment from medical personnel before being escorted from the pitch.

Officials at the ground were outraged by the police action, describing their response as "total over-reaction".

The game was abandoned, with South Africa officially declared the winners.

Former England striker John Fashanu was at the game and was very unhappy with the reaction by the police.

"It's been a bad week for African football. First South Africa losing the World Cup bid, and now this.

"The police over-reacted, very stupidly. We didn't need this to happen. Football in Africa is a passion, a carnival.

"The bottle-throwing and then the police over-reacting the way they did - it was too terrible. They were very poor in their crowd control.

"Africa must wake up, we need to show the world that Africa has grown up," Fashanu said.

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See also:

09 Jul 00 | 2006 World Cup decision
Under-fire Fifa rep resigns
06 Jul 00 | 2006 World Cup decision
Why South Africa's Cup bid failed BBC Sport >>
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