Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

England seek assurances after fans are injured

The Football Association last night sought assurances that England's World Cup warm-up match today against a local South African club would be safe after a stampede involving supporters at a similar game outside Johannesburg saw 14 people taken to hospital after being crushed.

The South Africa World Cup organisers were left embarrassed just four days before the start of the tournament by the crush in a crowd watching a warm-up game between Nigeria and North Korea at a 10,000 capacity stadium. None were killed but, with free admission, reports said that many more than 10,000 turned up.

The incident came hours after the nation's president Jacob Zuma and Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, gave their support to the country's readiness to host the event. England are playing a similar fixture today against the South African side Platinum Stars at a 20,000-capacity stadium to which only 12,000 will be admitted.

Last night the FA held a meeting in their Royal Bafokeng hotel with local organisers to obtain assurances of safety at the Moruleng stadium 40 miles north of Rustenburg in the North West province. The FA has given away the tickets free, with the distribution the responsibility of local organisers.

An FA spokesman said: “Safety and security comes first. We have met stadium management and we are in contact with the local organising committee to ensure the appropriate measures are in place.”

The reports from the Makhulong game said that there was an initial crowd surge when the stadium gates were opened and people were knocked down and trampled as fans forced their way in. The gates were shut in response but there was a second surge when they were re-opened.

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