Cameroon Football Team Donates to Stadium Crush Victims

YAOUNDÉ — Cameroon’s national football team, the Indomitable Lions, Sunday donated $85,000 and dedicated their 2-0 victory over the Scorpions of Gambia to victims of the stampede that killed eight and injured 38 at Yaoundé’s Olembe stadium this week. The Indomitable Lions say they cannot be indifferent after people died or were injured as they turned out to support Cameroon players taking part at the ongoing Africa Football Cup of Nations tournament in Cameroon.

Members of Cameroon’s national football team, the Indomitable Lions, sing that God will bless victims of this week’s crush at Yaoundé’s Olembe stadium. The players sang on Saturday evening in Douala, Cameroon’s economic hub and coastal city, after beating the Scorpions of Gambia in a quarter-final game in the Africa Football Cup of Nations, AFCON.

A statement after the match from Serge Guiffo, the Indomitable Lions press officer, said the players had donated $85,000 and dedicated their 2-0 victory over the Scorpions of Gambia to victims of the stampede that killed eight and injured 38.

The statement did not say how the money would be distributed to the victims, but said family members of those who died in the stampede will be given a share.

Narcisse Mouelle Kombi, Cameroon’s minister of sports and physical education, addressed the players at Douala’s Japoma stadium after the match.

Kombi said Cameroonians are happy that their national football team players have helped people who died or were injured while they struggled to watch the Indomitable Lions play. He said Cameroonians are happy that the donation comes after a historic victory against the Scorpions of Gambia.

The crush occurred as crowds struggled to get access to Olembe Stadium in the capital city Yaoundé. Cameroon President Paul Biya ordered the injured to be treated free of charge.

Ndukong Edward, a family member of a stampede victim, said the president did not make a statement about any assistance to the families of dead victims. Ndukong said he hopes the government will assist the injured and family members of the dead. He said security lapses by Cameroon’s police might have caused the stampede.

“If the gate was opened as it was supposed to be, nothing would have happened because people would have had access to the field. But if the gate was closed by some overzealous security officers for whatever reasons, then they should take responsibility,” he said.

Cameroonian authorities Friday blamed the deadly stadium crush on what they said was a massive influx of ticketless fans who arrived late to the game involving the host team and tried to force their way in to avoid security checks and COVID-19 screening.

Nasseri Paul Bea, governor of Cameroon’s Centre region, where Olembe is located, said the government will assist victims of the crush after the tournament. He said people attending football matches during AFCON should stop uncivil behavior such as jumping fences to get into stadiums.

“We are calling on this population to follow and respect the institutions, to be able to cooperate to be sure that Cameroon does not represent a bad image by being very patriotic and responsible. It should never happen again. Cameroonians should put in their mind that what happened in Olembe should never happen again,” he said.

Bea said some government ministers, senior state officials and well-wishers have been giving financial assistance to the victims in solidarity with the state of Cameroon.

After the crush, the Confederation of African Football suspended AFCON matches at Olembe until further notice.

Cameroon is hosting AFCON for the first time in 50 years. The tournament, which is the continent’s main football event, was originally scheduled in 2019. The confederation stripped the event from Cameroon that year because stadiums were not ready.

The competition that ends on February 6 began January 9.

Source: Voice of America

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