Senegal suspends sports events after 8 killed in soccer stampede

People look at the scene after a wall collapsed at Demba Diop stadium in Dakar after a football game between local teams Ouakam and Stade de Mbour on Saturday. — AFP

DAKAR — Senegal on Sunday suspended all sports and cultural events until elections at the end of the month, a day after eight people died in a football stadium disaster.

Legislative elections are due on July 30 and tensions are running high with prominent opposition leader and Dakar mayor Khalifa Sall campaigning from jail.

“All sporting and cultural activities are banned across the national territory for the rest of the electoral campaign,” Seydou Gueye, a spokesman for the prime minister, said.

A judicial inquiry will be opened to investigate the tragedy and determine who was responsible for Saturday’s incident, he said.

A wall collapsed in a Dakar stadium during extra time at the League Cup final between Stade de Mbour and US Ouakam which was marred by clashes between rival fans and police use of tear gas.

Sixty people were injured, Sports Minister Matar Ba said.

Campaigning for the elections by the ruling coalition of President Macky Sall was also suspended on Sunday out of respect for the victims.

The president said in a statement Sunday he was “outraged” at the lives lost, promising better security in Senegal’s stadiums and swift justice for the families affected.

On Friday rival supporters of President Sall and Mayor Sall, who are not related, clashed armed with knives in northern Dakar and several people were injured.

Senegal’s safety record at large gatherings has been heavily criticized this year after the death of dozens of people at a religious retreat in April when a fire ripped through makeshift shelters. — AFP