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Africa Cup of Nations

Stade d’Olembe will host Afcon final despite deadly stadium stampede

20:36 IST 30/01/2022
Stade d'Olembe, Yaounde, Cameroon
The Confederation of African Football have confirmed that there will be no venue change for the Nations Cup semi-final and final

The Africa Cup of Nations semi-final and final will both take place at the Stade d’Olembe less than a fortnight after eight people lost their lives at a crush at the stadium.

The Confederation of African Football confirmed on Sunday that, in light of assurances received by local authorities following a hearing into the causes of last Monday’s crush, there will be no venue change for Cameroon’s semi-final against Egypt nor the tournament final on January 6.

As well as eight deaths, 38 people were injured—seven seriously—before Cameroon’s Last 16 meeting with Comoros, prompting Caf to take the quarter-final due to be held at Olembe away from the 60,000 stadium.

While any further matches at the area were only to take place pending an investigation, a Caf statement issued on Sunday indicates that the organisation are content that there will be no repeat of the deadly scenes in the upcoming fixtures.

“Having noted the recommendations and undertakings from Government in regard to additional security provisions over and above those which were already successfully implemented at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium during the Morocco and Malawi match and at the Japoma Stadium during the Gambia and Cameroon match, the CAF Organising Committee unanimously agreed to lift the suspension imposed on the Olembe Stadium,” read a Caf statement as seen by GOAL.

“CAF, the Local Organising Committee and the Government of Cameroon having significantly increased security and resources at the Olembe Stadium, are confident that the safety and security of spectators and visitors will be assured.”

During a swathe of fixture changes announced earlier this week, Caf took one quarter-final away from Olembe, as well as removing a Last Eight tie and a semi-final away from the Stade Japoma in Douala.

In light of the incident, CAF announced their own investigation into the crush, while Cameroon head of state Paul Biya also confirmed that the government would be examining the causes of the incident.

Speaking on Friday, Sports Minister Narcisse Mouelle Kombi went into some more detail about the causes of the crush, blaming a “massive and late influx of supporters” while also indicating that — as Caf President Dr Patrice Motsepe had suggested on Friday — the closing of a stadium door ahead of the match also played a part.

Stadiums at the Nations Cup have been capped at 60-percent capacity for matches, with an extra 20 percent permitted for Cameroon games.

However, Kombi also indicated that close to 60,000 fans had attempted to enter the 60,000-capacity Olembe Stadium ahead of the Indomitable Lions' 2-1 victory over the Comoros as they reached the Last Eight.

“There was a gate that was closed that was meant to be open, and if it had been open, people would have walked through,” Motsepe told GOAL on Tuesday. “For inexplicable reasons, it was closed.

“If it had been open, as it was supposed to, we wouldn’t have had the problem we have now—this loss of life.

“As part of this hearing, we want to know who closed it and who is responsible, because we mustn’t compromise in our insistence to have appropriate measures which are the best in the world,” he added.

“There may be unforeseen circumstances when a gate that is supposed to be open is closed, but we and our partners, we have a huge commitment to ensure that appropriate measures are put in place so that this doesn’t happen again.”

Barring further venue changes, Cameroon and Egypt will meet in the second semi-final at the Stade d’Olembe on February 3, with Burkina Faso facing the winner of Senegal or Equatorial Guinea at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo the evening before.