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Stadium stampede a warning for World Cup: Blatter

Johannesburg: FIFA president Sepp Blatter said
the South African stadium stampede that left a policeman
seriously injured is like a wake-up call to warn World Cup
organizers.

Blatter said FIFA regretted Sunday`s incident at the
World Cup warmup between Nigeria and North Korea, which left
16 people injured outside Makhulong Stadium in the township of
Tembisa near Johannesburg.

"I am sure, and you are sure, that this is like an alarm
clock and this will not happen at any match at the World Cup,"
Blatter said after a two-day meeting of FIFA`s executive
committee.

"The security is always a matter for the state where the
sport event is played. The FIFA organization, with all its
ramifications, we have no police force. We cannot even take
out a spectator from a stadium. We cannot do that. It is not
possible."

About 10,000 tickets were given away free for the match,
where police saw a crowd twice force open the gates to the
stadium.

"In terms of organization, please be sure that the level
of organization we have at the World Cup is definitely higher
than the one we have seen there," said FIFA secretary general
Jerome Valcke, who was sitting alongside Blatter at the media
briefing.

"We have to make sure that the police working around the
World Cup stadiums will do better than what we have seen
yesterday."

Taiwo Ogunjobi, the Nigerian federation`s technical
committee chairman, told website kickoff.com they had no
alternatives other than Makhulong stadium, an outdated venue
which has no turnstiles for fans.

"We had no choice," Ogunjobi said. "That was the only
venue available to us. FIFA had taken control of all the
stadia we could have used, and we had to settle for this one
because we needed to play this match."

But Valcke denied FIFA had control of all other possible
venues.

FIFA said Sunday in a statement that the match had "no
relation whatsoever with the operational organization of the
2010 FIFA World Cup," and Nigeria media officer Idah Peterside
said the match "was organized by the two FAs."

Blatter also said it was a "good idea" that Brazil
recently played a match in Zimbabwe despite players like Kaka
and Robinho shaking hands with President Robert Mugabe, who
has been accused of running a campaign of political violence
in his country.

"We have seen the enthusiasm of the people and how
football connected people and that`s all," Blatter said of the
visit by the five-time World Cup winners. "I think it was a
good idea to go there."

Bureau Report

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