El Salvador: Tragedy at Estadio Cuscatlán

source: StadiumDB.com; author: Mateusz Osmola

El Salvador: Tragedy at Estadio Cuscatlán Panic broke out during a football match played in the Salvadoran capital, San Salvador, between local club Alianza FC and CD FAS Santa Ana. The tragedy took place on Saturday evening local time. There are fatalities and many injured.


At least 12 fatalities in Estadio Cuscatlán tragedy

With a capacity of 44,000 spectators, the stadium in San Salvador on Saturday evening was the venue for the Primera División quarter-final play-off match between Alianza FC and Club Deportivo FAS Santa Ana. However, the meeting was halted after around 16 minutes as dangerous events began to take place in the stadium.

As reported by the AFP agency, Salvadoran authorities said that preliminary investigations suggest this incident was caused by a crush among fans trying to enter the stadium. Carlos Fuentes, spokesman for the emergency services group Comandos de Salvamento, said the outbreak of panic was caused by a fallen gate at the venue, which led to people crowding in. Fans rushed onto the pitch in search of a way out of the prevailing confusion and crowding in the stands.

Estadio Cuscatlán© JMRAFFi (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Emergency services had to use the pitch as a makeshift hospital to provide first aid to more than 500 people who were hurt during the riot as dramatic scenes unfolded around the stadium. It was an avalanche of fans who crossed the gates. Others managed to make it to the stands and then to the field and were smothered,   -a volunteer from the first aid group Rescue Commandos, quoted by the BBC, said. The toll of the tragedy so far is 12 dead and more than 100 injured.

What was the cause of the calamity?

According to initial information, a number of Alianza fans tried to enter Estadio Cuscatlán with fake tickets, pushing against the stadium gate and causing a deadly threat. There were only two gates open in the whole stadium and the people who were outside wanted to forcibly get inside and they all fell on us, said one of the affected fans, reported by La Prensa Grafica.

In an attempt to control the situation, the police ordered the gates to be closed and, according to reports from several fans, even went as far as firing tear gas at fans trying to enter the stadium. According to police findings, smoke from gunpowder and firecrackers caused mass hysteria, but police say tear gas was never used.

Police Superintendent Mauricio Arriaza Chicas asserted that Salvadoran police had recommended opening a third entrance, but it was not provided. Fans literally had to break down the gate to get air as there was a huge crowd and people began to suffocate.

Estadio Cuscatlán© JMRAFFi (CC BY-SA 4.0)

El Salvador's president, Nayib Bukele, released a statement on Twitter saying that there would be an investigation into the disaster amid reports of fake ticket sales. Everyone will be investigated: teams, managers, stadium, ticket offices, league, federation, etc. Whoever is the culprit will not go unpunished.

The Salvadoran Football Federation (Fesfut) said it "deeply regrets" the tragedy and expressed solidarity with the families of those who died or were injured. The association has requested a report on what happened at Estadio Cuscatlán.