“Salvadorian football is in mourning”, deplored, this Sunday, May 21, to the press the director of the National Civil Police Mauricio Arriaza. Because the provisional assessment the day after a stampede that occurred on Saturday in a stadium in El Salvador is heavy: at least “twelve dead, nine in the stadium and three others […] in different hospitals. The tragedy took place when supporters “tried to enter” in the Cuscatlán stadium before a first division match in San Salvador, the capital of this Central American country. The game was between local team Alianza and Club Deportivo Futbolistas Associados Santanecos.
This Sunday, the president of the International Football Federation (FIFA) Gianni Infantino presented in a statement “his deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims who lost their lives as a result of the tragic incidents in El Salvador.” This tragedy comes six months after the tragedy at the Malang stadium, which occurred on the island of Java in Indonesia. An accident that claimed the lives of 135 people in a giant stampede caused by tear gas fire from the police. It is one of the worst disasters in the history of sport.
Nayib Bukele, President of the Republic of El Salvador announced that an investigation had been opened. “All will be concerned: teams, directions, State, ticket office, league, federation, etc.”, he wrote on Twitter. “Whoever the culprits are, they will not go unpunished”, he also warned. The police chief has promised an investigation. “in-depth in order to be able to determine the responsibility, by action or omission, of the persons concerned”.
Players have joined the rescue operations
At the time of the stampede on Saturday evening, the organizers decided to interrupt the match. Hundreds of law enforcement and military personnel then coordinated the evacuation of spectators. The Minister of Health, Francisco Alabi, assured for his part that “all patients” transferred were cared for by hospital emergency services.
According to a spokesman for relief, Carlos Fuentes, more than 500 people had to be taken care of inside the enclosure of some 35,000 places, one of the largest in Central America. The 100 most affected people were taken to health facilities, Fuentes continued, noting that some had symptoms of asphyxiation and others “types of trauma”. Players from both teams joined in the rescue operations for the injured inside the stadium.
In a statement, the Salvadoran Football Federation “deeply regretted” the tragedy at the Cuscatlán stadium. “The FESFUT will immediately request a report on what happened and will communicate the relevant information as soon as possible”, added the institution. The federation has also decreed “the suspension of football activities at national level” for this Sunday. She also announced a meeting of the Sports Enclosures Security Commission.