SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) -At least 12 people died and an unspecified number were injured in a stampede at a soccer stadium in El Salvador on Saturday, the Central American country’s government said.
Alianza FC and Club Deportivo FAS were playing the second leg of their playoff quarter-final game at the Cuscatlan stadium in San Salvador, the country’s capital, when play was suspended after a stampede broke out in the general section.
The venue is one of the largest stadiums in Central America and has an official capacity of more than 44,000 fans.
“The Salvadoran Football Federation deeply regrets the events that occurred at the Cuscatlan Stadium,” the organisation wrote on Twitter.
“It also expresses solidarity with the relatives of those affected and deceased in this incident.”
The federation added that they would immediately request a report on the incident while also suspending the tournament after Saturday’s events, calling for a meeting with the Security Commission of Sports Venues on Sunday.
Soccer’s world governing body FIFA lamented the events and said a minute’s silence would be held before Sunday’s four matches at the U-20 World Cup in Argentina.
“I extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims who lost their lives following the tragic incidents that have taken place in El Salvador,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino in a statement.
The continental soccer governing body CONCACAF, which also expressed its condolences, said it would support the investigation into the incident.
“The safety of participants and fans attending football matches is of utmost importance.
“The Confederation will fully support all efforts to clarify what happened and to implement measures to prevent such incidents in the future,” it said in a statement.
El Salvador President Nayib Bukele said the National Civil Police and the Attorney General’s Office would conduct a “thorough investigation” into the events at the stadium.
“Everyone will be investigated: teams, managers, stadium, box office, league, federation, etc. Whoever the culprits are, they will not go unpunished,” Bukele wrote on Twitter.
The incident comes after a deadly stampede last year killed 135 spectators at a stadium in Indonesia’s East Java in October. Many were crushed as they fled for exits after police fired tear gas into the crowd.
(Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath and Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Nelson Renteria in San Salvador and Angelica Medina in Mexico City; writing by Sarah Kinosian; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Ken Ferris)