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Tragedy After Joy: Fans Die
Five Iranian fans were trampled to death following the Iran qualifier match against Japan and forty more or so were injured, according to Reuters.

It didn't take a genius to at least consider the possibility that crowd control would be an issue at any game in Azadi Stadium (which officially has a 100,000 capacity but can hold up to 130,000 when you squeeze people into the steps and second-tier bleachers). And you could tell that this stadium was holding way more than the capacity, just by looking at how closely people were sitting.

I was really stuck by the Iran football fans during Japan's stay in Tehran. I don't think Japan has ever faced fans quite like that before. In China, sure there were mobs, but it was all political and belligerent. India's football fans seemed less interested in the game itself and more eager to catch a glimpse of Zico. Iran's fans are hard-core. Which makes me wonder how the Iran football association could have not tried to control the crowds a little better. It could have been the over-capacity numbers; it could have been other factors. But with so many games held in Azadi, there could have been better protocol in place... at least they should have anticipated the worst-case scenario (what would have happened if Iran lost?).

Japanese supporters numbered about 1000-1500 at this game. Several people were hit with thrown objects coming from the Iran supporters, and cut their heads. They were also forced to stay inside the stadium way after the game was over, until the crowds outside had dispersed. They faced similar problems in last year's Asia cup final against China -- getting locked in without water or food for several hours after the match in terrible heat and humidity in the dark.

Anyway, it's over. The deaths are unacceptable, especially after such a (surprisingly) uncontroversial game. Usually when you have such crowds and two top teams facing each other in a country where all the spectators are men and hardcore football supporters, some "incident" is bound to happen. I was worried that the referee (who is known to give out yellow/red cards like they were going out of style) would do more damage -- but he was relatively conservative for him. The only regrettable game-effecting mistake he made was giving Shinji Ono a yellow for tripping an Iran player, when he actually did not touch him. Unfortunately, this means Ono will not be able to play in the next game.

An interesting aside, the Singapore referee Maidin after the game was overheard saying, "This was just an unlucky game for Japan. Given the choice, I would probably would have prefered not to referee such a crucial game." (For more discussion about Mr. Maidin and refs, see my previous entry) I guess the two teams weren't the only ones coming into the game with some trepidation.
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上記広告は1ヶ月以上更新のないブログに表示されています。新しい記事を書くことで広告を消せます。