One dead, dozens hurt in stampede before Iraq Gulf Cup final. Hours before the Gulf Cup final, a rush broke out outside an Iraqi football stadium, leaving one person dead and several others injured, according to officials.
War-torn nations have long prohibited from staging international football matches. Iraq had hoped that the Gulf Cup would improve its reputation, but it had already had to issue an apology for organizational mistakes.
In anticipation of viewing the final between Iraq and Oman, thousands of spectators, many without tickets, had waited outside the 65,000-seat stadium in Basra, the main southern city of Iraq, since before daybreak.
A medic said that there had been one fatality and several minor injuries.
An employee of the interior ministry provided the same toll. The official reported that “a sizable number of fans, many of them without tickets, had collected since first light to attempt to get in.”
Turnstiles were still blocked when the crush happened, according to an AFP photographer inside the stadium. As ambulances arrived to take the injured to the hospital, sirens began to sound.
Social media posts revealed a sea of people in front of the stadium.
According to interior ministry spokesperson Saad Maan, fans started returning to Basra International Stadium in the afternoon after order was restored there.
After spectators arrived at the stadium and many of them waved Iraqi flags in anticipation of the match, which the football federation said would start at 7:00 pm, the gates were shut (1400 GMT).
The phrase “doing honor to Iraq”
In order to discuss “special measures for the Gulf Cup final,” Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani had previously presided over a meeting with important ministers and the governor of Basra, according to his office.
The Iraqi president traveled to Basra to monitor the situation there, it continued.
The army urged spectators to follow security personnel’s directions while entering the stadium so that the match may be “finished up in a civilized way that shows respect to Iraq.”
In the past, violent stampedes have occurred in Iraq; the most recent was in Karbala in 2019 during the Ashura celebrations, when 31 people perished.
Football is by far the most popular spectator sport in Iraq, and the seldom chance to watch home international matches has attracted thousands of spectators.
Thousands of international spectators have also traveled across the border from Kuwait to see the event in Basra, which is only around 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the border.
Along with Iraq, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen also compete in the Gulf Cup.
The event, which is in its 25th year, is being staged for the first time in Iraq since 1979, the year Saddam Hussein came to power.
Following Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, FIFA banned Iraq from all international football competitions.
Due to the years of conflict and turmoil in Iraq, other prohibitions came intermittently up to the beginning of last year.
However, the tournament has been beset by logistical issues that have seen supporters with tickets, as well as credentialed media, refused away. This is despite Iraq’s effort to demonstrate that it can safely hold an international sporting event.
After a fight broke out in the VIP area and prevented Iraq’s leader’s delegate from attending the opening ceremony, Iraq was compelled to apologize to its neighbor Kuwait.