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‘Stampede a wake-up call for organisers’

sports Updated: Jun 09, 2010 18:12 IST
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FIFA president Sepp Blatter said the South African stadium stampede that left a policeman seriously injured is like a wake-up call to warn World Cup organizers.

Blatter said FIFA regretted Sunday’s incident at the World Cup warmup between Nigeria and North Korea, which left 16 people injured outside Makhulong Stadium in the township of Tembisa near Johannesburg.

“I am sure, and you are sure, that this is like an alarm clock and this will not happen at any match at the World Cup,” Blatter said after a two-day meeting of FIFA’s executive committee. “The security is always a matter for the state where the sport event is played. The FIFA organization, with all its ramifications, we have no police force. We cannot even take out a spectator from a stadium. We cannot do that. It is not possible.”

About 10,000 tickets were given away free for the match, where police saw a crowd twice force open the gates to the stadium. “In terms of organization, please be sure that the level of organization we have at the World Cup is definitely higher than the one we have seen there,” said FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, who was sitting alongside Blatter at the media briefing.

“We have to make sure that the police working around the World Cup stadiums will do better than what we have seen yesterday.” Taiwo Ogunjobi, the Nigerian federation’s technical committee chairman, told website kickoff.com they had no alternatives other than Makhulong stadium, an outdated venue which has no turnstiles for fans.

“We had no choice,” Ogunjobi said. “That was the only venue available to us. FIFA had taken control of all the stadia we could have used, and we had to settle for this one because we needed to play this match.”

But Valcke denied FIFA had control of all other possible venues. FIFA said Sunday in a statement that the match had “no relation whatsoever with the operational organization of the 2010 FIFA World Cup,” and Nigeria media officer Idah Peterside said the match “was organized by the two FAs.”

Blatter also said it was a “good idea” that Brazil recently played a match in Zimbabwe despite players like Kaka and Robinho shaking hands with President Robert Mugabe, who has been accused of running a campaign of political violence in his country.