On March 14, 2023, FC Porto took on Inter Milan in the Champions League round of 16. Threatening scenes unfolded in front of the hosts' stadium. Around 1,000 Inter fans were denied entry to the venue. The crowd was stuck in a tight queue that many could not escape from.
Poor management at Estádio do Dragão
The Milan team won the first match against FC Porto 1:0. The Nerazzurri fans went to Portugal with optimism, having solid reasons to expect their club's promotion to the next round. However, no one anticipated that some of the visitors would not be able to enter the Estádio do Dragão stadium. The problems had already started a few days earlier when Internazionale fans started buying tickets from outside the visitors' section. On Monday, in response to it, FC Porto management announced that 1,000 Italian fans would be banned from entering. The following day, however, the original decision was changed. On Tuesday, thanks to a day-long negotiation, all Inter fans with tickets were guaranteed entry.
They were allowed to access the stadium on the condition of not bringing jerseys and scarves or other accessories that would identify them with their club. Needless to say, everyone was surprised when it turned out that FC Porto had failed to meet their promises. As a result, some chaotic scenes took place outside the stadium. According to reports from fans, they were told to go to a different gate than the one specified on their tickets. The gate turned out to be closed and, unfortunately, only the people at the front realized it. For a while, the back of the crowd pushed on and the queue became dangerously cramped. Fortunately, the fans recognised the escalating risk and reacted accordingly. In the end, no one was hurt, but the situation could have ended differently.
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Stadium crowds can be dangerous
Who's to blame? At the time of writing this article, FC Porto had not spoken out on the matter. In fact, it is possible that the club will not do this at all due to the small scale of the event and its positive spin. However, the happy ending to this story does not take away from the organisational chaos at Estádio do Dragão with potentially dangerous consequences. As reported by Inter Milan fans, the staff at the venue reacted with a delay. Fortunately, the Italian visitors were eventually able to enter the stadium. But why is this situation causing such an emotive response?
There have been many tragedies at stadiums during sporting events and concerts involving confused, frightened, or poorly managed crowds. The last such famous incident took place in 2017 in the Angolan city of Uige, where a panic attack led to the death of 17 people. A similar situation happened in 2009 at the Houphouet-Boigny stadium in the Ivorian capital, Abidjan. One of the arena's walls collapsed under the pressure of fans who were not allowed to enter. Another tragedy involving crowds at the same venue followed four years later. These stories demonstrate clearly the serious consequences of poor management at matches. Let's hope FC Porto and other clubs will learn from the events at Estádio do Dragão stadium.
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