Qualifiers to stage silence for Abidjan victims

FIFA has asked for a minute's silence to be observed before the start of World Cup qualifiers this week following the stadium crush in Ivory Coast on Sunday that killed at least 19 people. "The minute's silence is a mark of respect for the African football family and in memory of the persons who lost their lives outside of the stadium in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on 29 March 2009," world soccer's governing body said in a statement. The crush occurred after part of a wall collapsed when ticketless fans stormed one of the entrances to the 45,000-capacity Houphouet-Boigny arena before the qualifier between Ivory Coast and Malawi. Despite a bid by FIFA to force the improvement of stadium facilities across the continent, the crush in Abidjan is the second such incident during the 2010 qualifiers in Africa. In June, eight people were killed in a crush in Liberia as spectators jostled to get into an already overcrowded stadium in Monrovia for the match between Liberia and the Gambia.