If there is one big sports movie that deserves an Oscar in 2017, it should be the Kaduna football fans at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium who came in their large numbers to cheer their darling Super Eagles in the 1-1 draw against the Pharaohs of Egypt in Friday’s 2017 African Cup of Nations qualifier.
Judging by the aerial view, the Kaduna fans were like a colony of ants and daring the scorching sunlight that covers the stadium. It was a good but terrifying sight to behold considering the spate of attacks in the Northern part of Nigeria.
A slight or unpleasant commotion could trigger a stampede amongst the fans that came to watch the Super Eagles.
A stadium which seats 25,000 people had over 40, 000 at the venue due to Kaduna State governor, El Rufai‘s directive to open the gates for free, without putting into cognizance the safety and health conditions of the fans.
There is nothing wrong with the Governor’s initiative to open the gate for free for Kaduna fans, and fans who traveled miles to take in the match, however, it would have been a case of who takes the blame if any catastrophe had occurred in the Stadium.
A major disaster was avoided as there was a heightened possibility of a stadium stampede which could have put the state and Nigeria as whole into total darkness going by the uncontrollable crowd that was at the stadium.
The acrobat hanging off the top-tier of the metal structure is especially fortunate to have found his way home safely, while it also appears that a man was holding a large pole to either help people climb the tower or maybe even support it.
Despite the presence of security operatives in the stadium, it didn’t deter the fans from going beyond the horizon of the stadium, something which could have been checkmated by the security operatives on duty.
Besides, after the final whistle of the game by the center referee which ended the much publicized clash between the Super Eagles and the Pharaohs 1-1 draw, the crowd was seen invading the pitch without following the normal exit doors.
Also, an event of this nature occurred in 2009 when a large crowd came to watch the Ivory Coast win over Malawi in a 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier at Abidjan, of which 19 deaths and various degrees of injuries were recorded due to poor crowd control.
According to reports, Nigeria could face African Football Confederation (CAF) sanctions for allowing too many spectators into the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna Friday.
“Nigeria will most likely be penalized by CAF for poor crowd control even though there was no major incident before, during or after the match,” said a leading football official, who requested anonymity.
“Sanctions for such a shortcoming would be a fine and a warning,” he added.
Another official said the police failed to stop the crowd gaining access to the stadium even when it was clear that the capacity was overstretched.
In order to avoid a future occurrence, it would be ideal for both the Kaduna State government and the Nigeria Football Federation to work hand-in-hand and consider the safety of the fans before, during and after any football match.