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Olembe Stadium cleared to host AFCON semi, final

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has confirmed that Olembe Stadium in the Cameroonian capital of Yaoundé will host a semi-final and the final of the Africa Cup of Nations, after eight people died following a crush at the venue ahead of a game last week.

Olembe Stadium had been due to stage a quarter-final yesterday (Sunday) but CAF opted to relocate the match to Yaoundé’s Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium. The decision came after eight people were killed during a crush as Olembe Stadium staged a match between host nation Cameroon and Comoros last Monday.

In a statement released yesterday, CAF confirmed that it had received a report compiled by its safety and security department on the circumstances which led to last week’s incident, which also resulted in 38 people being injured.

CAF said the report highlighted “extensive onsite meetings and discussions” which were held with senior representatives of the police, the gendarmerie, the military, the Cameroonian Government and other ministers and stakeholders.

CAF did not disclose any details of the report but said that its organising committee has “unanimously agreed” to lift the suspension placed on Olembe Stadium, having noted the recommendations and undertakings from the Government in regard to additional security provisions.

CAF also noted that additional security measures were successfully implemented at Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium during the Round of 16 match between Morocco and Malawi last Tuesday.

CAF said it is “confident” that the safety and security of spectators and visitors will be assured during the upcoming matches at Olembe Stadium. The venue is due to host the semi-final between Cameroon and Egypt on Thursday, as well as the final on Sunday.

On Friday, the Cameroonian Government said the crush was caused by a surge of ticketless fans who had arrived late and tried to force their way into the stadium. Witnesses have said that security officials at the stadium directed fans with tickets towards an area with a locked gate.

Olembe Stadium seats 60,000 fans, but the venue is operating at 80% capacity following restrictions outlined by CAF earlier this month. The 80% capacity limit only applies to matches featuring Cameroon, with the rest of the games capped at 60% capacity.

Image: Score Beethoven/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size