At least one person has been confirmed dead following a stampede at a stadium in southern city of Basra just hours ahead of the Arabian Gulf Cup final on Thursday
The Arabian Gulf Cup final game between the host country and Iraq and Oman on Thursday will go as planned, the Iraqi footballing body confirmed, after speculations of delay following a deadly stampede.
“The Iraqi Football Federation confirms that the Arabian Gulf Cup final match scheduled on Thursday between Iraq and Oman will continue as planned at 7pm tonight at the Basra International Stadium,” the statement read.
The Iraqi Football Federation made the announcement just hours after the stampede killed at least one person as mass crowds gathered outside the Basra International Stadium.
The Arabian Gulf Cup Football Federation fell short of publishing a statement of its own however it appeared to confirm the game will go ahead with a tweet displaying fans at the stadium.
Devastating footage that emerged online showed bodies on the ground as others attempted to help. Other videos showed fans trying to climb over closed gates as security forces attempted to control the situation.
Videos filmed inside the venue showed an already packed out stadium hours ahead of kick-off.
“We call on fans to avoid going to the stadium to watch the match as it is at full capacity,” the statement added.
In a statement to local media, Basra governor Asaad Abdulameer Aleidani initially said the final match could be moved to a neighbouring nation in light of the developments, though no official statement has been made as of yet.
However, Iraqi authorities reportedly set up large screens at the Al-Minaa Olympic Stadium in Basra to allow fans to watch the Gulf Cup final shortly after Aleidani’s comments.
By 4pm local time, Omani authorities confirmed nationals at Basra International Airport will return home to ensure their safety.
Footage that emerged in the aftermath of the incident showed seats that were dedicated to fans of the Omani national team had been taken by Iraqis as thousands of fans swarmed the stadium.