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FIFA have no safety fears

FIFA last night insisted the stampede before the World Cup warm-up game between Nigeria and North Korea which saw 16 people hospitalised should not heighten safety fears for the finals themselves.

Fourteen fans and two policemen were taken for treatment following a surge to gain entry to the match at the Makhulong Stadium in the township of Tembisa.

After expressing their sadness at events, FIFA were quick to point out the world governing body were not responsible for the organisational chaos which ensued less than a week before the finals get under way.

A statement read: "FIFA and the Organising Committee (OC) of the 2010 FIFA World Cup have been informed by the South African Police Services (SAPS) about the incidents which have taken place today on the occasion of the friendly match between Nigeria and Korea DPR.


"FIFA and the OC would like to first wish a prompt recovery to those who have been affected by these incidents.

"In addition, FIFA and the OC would like to reiterate that this friendly match has no relation whatsoever with the operational organisation of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, for which we remain fully confident. Contrary to some media reports, FIFA had nothing to do with the ticketing of this game."

Tickets for the game at the 10,000 capacity ground were free, meaning there was a huge demand and additional pressure on authorities after a larger number of fans turned up.

Explaining what happened, the South African Police Services (SAPS) said in a statement: "The friendly match was arranged by a private company and tickets were apparently being handed out by the teams outside the stadium.

"Initial reports from the stadium, which is not a 2010 FIFA World Cup stadium, indicate that 10,000 tickets were distributed outside the stadium but a number of fans wanted to enter the stadium without tickets. It would seem that there was also some confusion among the crowd as to the ticketing system, which led to disruptive behaviour on the part of the crowd.

"Police members immediately started implementing crowd management measures but the crowd became unruly and pushed against the gates, forcing them open on two occasions.

"One police official was seriously wounded when he was trampled by the crowd; one police official was slightly injured but remained on duty.

"The (seriously wounded) police official is in a stable condition. The police did all in their power to prevent fatalities and minimise injuries."

The game continued with Nigeria going on to win 3-1.

South Africa is just days away from the opening of the first ever World Cup in Africa and its president Jacob Zuma and FIFA head Sepp Blatter gave their full backing towards the country's readiness to host the event.