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Tragic Stampede at Cairo Stadium During 1974 African Tour: 50 Years Later

During the African tour in 1974, the football players of Dukla Prague were present when at least 49 people died and several dozen others were injured at the stadium in Cairo due to the collapse of the tribune and subsequent crowd panic. Exactly 50 years have passed since the tragic event.

On Sunday, February 17, 1974, a friendly match between the local club Zamalek SC and Dukla Prague was supposed to take place in the Egyptian capital. However, it was canceled due to an accident at the stadium.

Cairo Stadium was inaugurated in 1959 with a match in which Zamalek beat Dukla 2-0. 15 years later, there was huge interest among fans in a rematch between the same rivals. Up to 80,000 spectators were reportedly trying to get into the stadium with a capacity of 45,000.

<p data="The tribune could not withstand the onslaught of spectators, some of whom overcame the iron barriers in front of the entrance, and its walls collapsed during the ensuing stampede.

<p data="“I know that there was a big panic, some people were trampled. People’s interest was greater than the number of people who could fit in there,” recalled Dukla’s goalkeeper at the time and later European champion Ivo Viktor for Aktuálně.cz.

<p data="Luděk Macela, Ján Geleta, Miroslav Gajdůšek or Zdeněk Nehoda played with him in the Dukla team at that time.

<p data="In 2001, striker Oldřich Rott recalled in an interview for the Slovo newspaper as follows: “The organizers did not manage the situation at all. The grandstand collapsed, people stepped on each other and impaled themselves on the spiky fences.”

<p data="After 50 years, Viktor doesn’t remember the details, but he still pulls something out of his memory. “We played at least two matches in Egypt then, and this one was logically cancelled. It would be an insult to the dead,” he says.

<p data="“I remember that we were staying in a luxury hotel. When the match was cancelled, they took us right back to the hotel. We didn’t see anything from the stampede in the stadium, not even any dead people,” continues the eighty-one-year-old Viktor.

<p data="He was surprised that even later he did not learn any details. After all, even today there is not much information about this event to be found on the Internet.

<p data="“I have the impression that we flew home the very next day. Then it was kind of forgotten, it passed without any response. It was not discussed at all in Czechoslovakia. If such a thing happened nowadays, there would be much more talk about it ,” ponders Viktor.

<p data="The most tragic event in football stadiums in the world was the riots and panic at the National Stadium in Lima on May 24, 1964, which left 318 dead and 500 injured.

<p data="Riots then broke out after the Uruguayan referee disallowed an equalizing goal just before the end of an Olympic qualification match between Peru and Argentina. Most of the victims suffocated while trying to escape from the stadium.

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