Ticketless soccer fans allegedly caused a deadly stampede March 29 before a World Cup qualifying match between Ivory Coast and Malawi at Felix Houphouet-Boigny arena in Abidjan.
Authorities reported 22 were killed and 132 injured in the melee.
Interior Minister Desire Tagro reportedly said on state TV that fans outside the 35,000-capacity facility starting pushing and shoving prior to the match, which created a panic. The weight of the fans caused a wall to come crashing down.
“They started pushing to get in because the match was about to start and each and every one of them wanted to get in,” Tagro said.
However, witnesses claim police fired tear gas into the crowd of fans piling into the arena and that’s what caused the stampede.
“We saw people falling from the top bleachers,” said a witness who was inside the stadium. “The stampede was provoked by the security forces who threw tear gas canisters at us. I don’t know why they fired on us.”
The match continued, with Ivory Coast winning 5-0.
World soccer governing body FIFA called for an immediate investigation into the tragedy and the Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo declared a three-day period of mourning.