TEMBISA, South Africa -- Thousands of soccer fans stampeded outside a stadium Sunday before a World Cup warmup match between Nigeria and North Korea, leaving 10 people injured, including a policeman.
Several fans could be seen falling under the rush of people, many wearing Nigeria jerseys. The Makhulong Stadium in the Johannesburg suburb seats about 12,000 fans.
AP Photo/Frank Augstein
Police tried to restrain fans from stampeding the gates at Sunday's World Cup friendly between Nigeria and North Korea.
"This is a friendly game," police spokesman Col. Hangwani Mulaudzi said, "and I think the fans were excited to come and see their heroes who will be participating in the World Cup."
Mulaudzi said that because this was a friendly, the Nigerian team, designated the host, was responsible for security. Once trouble broke out, he said, police stepped in to control the situation.
The World Cup begins Friday.
One fan, wearing a South Africa rugby jersey and bleeding from the head, said the crowd overpowered him.
"I fell down and people just fell over me," Japhta Mombelo said. "That crowd is overpowering. The police have told me to stay around and they will organize an ambulance but I am still waiting."
The first rush came when the gates opened to allow fans into the stadium. Police soon closed the gates, but when they were reopened, a second rush occurred, with more people falling and being run over.
"When we were coming in they were just stepping on us," said Princess Mbali, who was wearing a green South Africa shirt. "I thought I was dying. I was at the bottom."
Shortly after the second rush, the gates were closed again and much of the crowd dissipated.
"The police aren't saying anything, just go and watch the match," Mbali said. "How can we watch the match when we are hurt? Maybe my ribs are broken. No one is helping us and we are South Africans."
The injured policeman was bloodied in the crush and later taken away on a stretcher. Other fans who appeared to be lightly injured walked away from the scene as it calmed down.
The Tembisa Stadium is nothing like those built or renovated for the World Cup. It has concrete terraces and is surrounded by a fence with gates and no turnstiles.
The Nigeria and North Korean teams were lining up for the national anthems when the second surge happened. They had no idea what was going on outside.
The match was suspended for about 10 minutes shortly after the second half began, but it restarted with Nigeria leading 1-0.
Security was also increased as the match went on.
"We have security plans that are there," Mulaudzi said. "I think this is one of those isolated cases where we did not anticipate the large number of people who would be interested in this game." Last year, FIFA fined Ivory Coast's federation $46,800 after 22 people died in a stampede at a World Cup qualifying match.
World Cup security was not in place at the match in Tembisa because it was a friendly, but one policeman blamed FIFA for the trouble.
"FIFA made the tickets free and now look," said the policeman, who refused to identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media. "FIFA wanted them free."
surprised this wasn't already posted, I saw it on ESPN
-FRIENDLY MATCH NIGERIA VS NORTH KOREA
-I'VE BEEN TOLD THERE WAS ONE GATE TO GET IN
-IT WASN'T WORLD CUP SECURITY THAT WAS THERE