Stadium Disaster in Guatemala City with approximately 80 dead

Zurich, 17 October 1996 - For reasons as yet unknown, scores of spectators were killed in a crowd stampede in the Mateo Flores Stadium in Guatemala City just before a match between Guatemala and Costs Rica in the preliminary competition of the 1998 World Cup on 16 October. Initial reports talk of 80 dead. Numerous fans were injured, some of them seriously.

In his initial brief account, the FIFA match commissioner pointed out that some forged match tickets had apparently been sold and that consequently too many fans had wanted to gain access to the stadium. According to reports, as the Costa Rican team was warming up on the pitch at 19.30 hours local time, it seems that some fans kicked down a entrance door to the south stands, causing other spectators to tumble down to the lower levels of the stands. Even though the security forces released the emergency gates to the pitch, several people died in the crush.

The heads of state of Guatemala and Costa Rica were also intending to attend the game. The President of Guatemala immediately went to the scene of the tragedy and called for three days of national mourning.

FIFA and the international football community are devastated at the news of this latest stadium disaster and have sent the football association of Guatemala and families of the victims their deepest sympathy. The exact causes of the disaster will be investigated by the government authorities, which are responsible for safety inside and outside stadia, and the football bodies involved. FIFA has now postponed this World Cup match in the CONCACAF (North, South and Central America and the Caribbean) Preliminary Group 1 until further notice.

Enquiries to be addressed to:
FIFA Media Office
Tel: +41-1/384 9595
Fax: +41-1/384 9696

FIFA Communications Division
Zurich; 17 October 1996


FIFA Communications Department, P.O. Box 85, Hitzigweg 11, CH-8030 Zurich, Switzerland

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