Chelsea and Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba has spoken of his sorrow after a stadium stampede resulted in the deaths of at least 19 people during a 2010 World Cup qualifier on Sunday.
At least another 130 people were injured when crowds crammed into the Houphouet-Boigny stadium to watch Ivory Coast play Malawi. However, desperate to see national heroes Didier Drogba, Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Eboue, Salomon Kalou and Didier Zokora, thousands of ticketless fans descended upon the stadium, causing a wall to collapse. Around 50,000 supporters were in and around the 35,000 capacity ground.
Drogba, who scored twice in Ivory Coast’s 5-0 victory, said the horrific tragedy put football into perspective.
“Football is nothing – you are talking about the death of 19 people. It is hard to take," he said. "When things like that happen it makes you realise how much people care about their country, their team.
“Peace to them. It is sad.”
Hundreds of supporters have died in stampedes and riots at football grounds across Africa in the last decade. But organisers behind the 2010 World Cup insist security measures will prevent such tragic events occuring when the tournament takes place in South Africa next year.
Danny Jordaan, president of the World Cup organising committee, has revealed that match tickets will have to be purchased well in advance of match-days, and that those without tickets will be stopped “kilometres away,” to prevent overcrowding around the stadiums.