Cameroonian players have asked federation president Samuel Eto’o if their bonuses for qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations knockout stages might be donated to the victims of the terrible stampede at the Olembe Stadium last Monday.
In a crowd outside the stadium’s south entrance prior of Cameroon’s round-of-16 triumph against Comoros, eight fans were killed and another 38 were injured, seven of them badly.
Each Cameroon player wins $85,000 (£63,000) for making it to the tournament’s knockout rounds.
“The Indomitable Lions requested that their bonus of 50,000,000 CFA [$85,585.63 USD, £63,653.93 GBP] for qualifying for the last 16 of the AFCON be given to the victims of the stampede that occurred at Olembe on the 24th of January,” according to team spokesman Serge Leopold Guiffo.
“The request came after their quarterfinal match against The Gambia in Douala [on Saturday 29 January], and of course Eto’o accepted; it’s up to the players to decide how they spend their money.”
Cameroon’s 2-0 quarterfinal triumph over Gambia on Saturday was dedicated to the victims of the accident. On Thursday, the tournament hosts will meet Egypt in a semifinal match at the Olembe.
On Wednesday, Burkina Faso and Senegal will compete in the other semifinal at the Ahidjo Stadium. The final, which will also be held at the Olembe, will take place on Sunday.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) said on Sunday that they had acquired the required assurances that extra safety measures would be introduced following a hearing into the causes and circumstances surrounding the crush. A quarterfinal match slated for the 60,000-capacity stadium on the outskirts of Yaounde’s capital had earlier been shifted to Ahidjo Stadium in the city’s center by the CAF.
Following the stampede, Cameroon’s president, Paul Biya, said on Tuesday that the government will conduct its own investigation into the disaster, with the country’s sports minister, Narcisse Mouelle Kombi, giving some details of their findings on Friday.
According to the government’s conclusions, a “large and late stream of supporters and onlookers… caused the crush,” and the door at the south entrance was “temporarily closed by police in the face of a surge of fans while other doors were operational,” according to Kombi.
He went on to say that “security forces proceeded to open the gate at the South Entrance in a reckless manner, precipitating the stampede.”
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Olembe has been capped at 80% capacity (48,000 spectators) for Cameroon’s matches during the competition, with limitations in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
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Last week, CAF president Patrice Motsepe told ESPN that reforms needed to be done to avoid a repeat at Olembe, and that he had great faith in the Cameroonian government and organizing entities to keep the tournament safe for the rest of the way.
“As CAF president, I have a fundamental responsibility to ensure that stadium facilities, infrastructure, and safety meet global standards; we cannot state that Africa falls short of global norms,” he said. “Whether it’s safety or security, we have to stay in step with Europe and the rest of the world.”