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African football body wants 'thorough' investigation into DRC disaster

updated 3:36 AM EDT, Tue May 13, 2014
CAF President Issa Hayatou and FIFA boss Sepp Blatter have both expressed their condolences.
CAF President Issa Hayatou and FIFA boss Sepp Blatter have both expressed their condolences.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • African football body CAF calls for 'thorough' investigation into DR Congo stadium disaster
  • Fifteen fans died as a stampede broke out at the game between AS Vita and TP Mazembe
  • FIFA President Sepp Blatter offers support of the entire football community
  • Match took place in stadium of 'Rumble in the Jungle' fame

(CNN) -- African football's ruling body, the Confederation of African Football, has called for a thorough investigation into how 15 fans died at a league match in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The fatalities occurred after a stampede broke out in the closing stages of Sunday's decisive meeting between the country's biggest clubs, AS Vita Club and TP Mazembe.

Reports state that trouble flared after fans of home side Vita started throwing missiles onto the pitch with their team trailing 1-0 in a game where the victor would take the title.

The police responded by firing tear gas whereupon a stampede for the exit gates led to chaotic scenes of overcrowding, resulting in the deaths and injuries to over 20 others.

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On its website, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) said the stampede 'caused the collapse of a wall and a gate of the Tata Raphael stadium'.

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The match was taking place in the Congolese capital Kinshasa, at the stadium that staged the legendary 'Rumble in the Jungle' boxing bout between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in 1974.

"I wish to reemphasize that any acts of violence have no place in football," CAF President Issa Hayatou told cafonline.com.

"They must be condemned in the strongest possible terms and I urge FECOFA (the Congolese FA) and authorities in DR Congo to thoroughly investigate this matter and ensure that measures (are) put in place to avoid a repeat of any incidents."

The long-serving Cameroonian also demanded that CAF be kept abreast of any proposed security measures.

Kinshasa governor Andre Kimbuta has already set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the disaster.

"On behalf of FIFA and in my own name, I offer you, and the Congolese FA, my sincerest condolences," wrote FIFA President Sepp Blatter in a letter to the President of FECOFA.

"I would be most grateful if you would pass on the deep sympathy and support of the entire international football community to the families, loved ones and clubs of the deceased and victims at this very difficult time."

"May this message soften their pain and bring them support and comfort."

At FIFA's headquarters in the Swiss city Zurich, the flags of both DR Congo and CAF were flown at half-mast in a sign of mourning.

The disaster is the worst at a Congolese football match since a game in Butembo in 2008, when 13 spectators -- many of whom were children -- died after police fired tear gas into the crowd shortly after stones had been thrown by the fans.

Six years on, a similar set of circumstances has sparked a further devastating loss of life.

The two teams are set to meet again on the weekend of May 24-25 in the group stages of the African Champions League.

Read: The amazing story of TP Mazembe

CAF is considering whether to play the match between AS Vita, crowned African champions in the 1970s, and four-time continental winners Mazembe behind closed doors.

Mazembe stunned the footballing world in 2010 when becoming the first African side to reach the final of FIFA's Club World Cup, but their name may now conjure up far sadder emotions.

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