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Painful day for soccer

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Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/ANA Pictures

Saturday’s Carling Black Label Champion Cup match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates at FNB Stadium was meant to be another instalment in the glorious and proud tradition of derby matches between South Africa’s two glamour clubs.

It was meant to be even more of a special occasion for the fans as they themselves had selected the teams for the game, which always sets the scene for the upcoming PSL season.

Instead the day turned into a day of terrible grief and tragedy as two people were killed and several injured during a stampede at the turnstiles, which apparently occurred shortly after the game had kicked off.

At the time of writing, the exact cause of the incident was still unclear.

Several reports said fake tickets were part of the problem at the turnstiles, but this has yet to be confirmed.

The incident has rekindled painful memories of the 2001 Soweto derby at Ellis Park, which claimed the lives of 43 people, as well as memories of a pre-season friendly between the two clubs in Orkney in 1991, where 42 fans lost their lives during riots.

There were immediate and pertinent questions asked about how Saturday’s incident happened, and why the game was allowed to continue.

It appears as if those inside the stadium were unaware of what was happening at the turnstiles.

Whatever caused the incident, it is a painful day for South African soccer and indeed for South African sport.

Although the PSL’s immediate reaction was to refer enquiries to the sponsors as they did not organise the match, a full inquiry by the police and the stadium management has been promised, and it is absolutely essential that this takes place in a transparent and speedy way.

South African Football Association (Safa) president Danny Jordaan also asked for a full report on the incident, and it is important that Safa plays a leading role in the process.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of those fans who lost their lives and we wish the injured a full and speedy recovery.