Five officials from Alianza FC and Estadios Deportivos de El Salvador (EDESSA), operator of Estadio Cuscatlán, have been arrested following the weekend stampede at the venue that killed 12 people.
El Salvador’s Public Prosecutor’s Office ordered the arrests yesterday (Thursday) in the latest fallout from the incident which took place on Saturday. Alianza was the home team during a Primera División playoff quarter-final match against Club Deportivo FAS at Estadio Cuscatlán, which has a capacity of 44,836.
Play was suspended and ultimately abandoned after around 16 minutes as supporters alerted players and officials to the stampede. Injured fans were carried on to the pitch, with more than 500 people treated.
The Prosecutor’s Office said Alianza president Pedro Hernandez, two club directors and two EDESSA officials were arrested and charged with manslaughter. A statement on the Office’s Twitter account said: “Negligence in the organisation and greed, by over-selling, generated a human avalanche that caused the loss of lives, as well as injuries and endangered the safety of the attendees. They will be brought before the courts in the coming days.”
The five officials will also be investigated for potential culpability for injuries suffered by stampede victims, and for “public havoc”. The stampede is thought to have started when a gate at the stadium collapsed.
“It is clear from the investigations carried out that the exits were not sufficient for the number of fans,” the Prosecutor’s Office said, adding that exit doors “were not opened with sufficient anticipation” for fans to leave the stadium safely.
On Wednesday, the Salvadoran Football Federation (FESFUT) said the remainder of the domestic championship would be terminated over safety concerns.
FESFUT said in a statement: “Our priority will be to make sure that security measures are strengthened at football events. With the support and international advice from FIFA and CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football), we will implement better protocols that provide guarantees for the peace of mind of the fans and all involved in these events.”
Earlier in the week, San Salvador-based Alianza FC was given a one-year stadium ban. As well as being ordered to play matches behind closed doors for a year, Alianza was fined $30,000 (£24,000/€28,000), which the club has until July 21 to pay. FESFUT said that Alianza, as the home team, was responsible for the events that occurred.
Following the disaster, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele said that an investigation would be launched.