Iraqi football fans try to enter the Basra International Stadium (Anmar Khalil/AP)
19 January 2023

Two killed and dozens hurt in stampede outside stadium ahead of Gulf Cup final

19 January 2023

Two people have been killed and dozens hurt in a stampede outside a football stadium in southern Iraq, a health official said.

It happened as fans gathered to watch the Gulf Cup final – the first international football tournament held in the country for four decades – on Thursday.

Iraq are set to play Oman at 4pm UK time.

One person was killed and 60 hurt outside the Basra International Stadium, with some of the injured fighting for their lives, the Iraqi News Agency (INA) said.

A doctor at Basra General Hospital told the Associated Press two people were killed and 38 hurt, with some discharged.

In a statement, the country’s interior ministry urged ticketless fans to leave the area.

The stadium is full and all gates have been closed, it said.

Iraq’s new Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, who arrived in Basra on Thursday, urged people to help authorities in order to “show the final match of 25th edition of the Gulf Cup in its most beautiful form”.

The INA later said giant screens have been placed in different public places in Basra so people can watch the match.

The eight-nation Arabian Gulf Cup has faced several incidents, including chaos inside the VIP section during which a Kuwaiti prince was unable to attend the opening match earlier this month.

The tournament started on January 6, with teams from the six Gulf Co-operation Council countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – as well as Yemen and Iraq.

It is the first time since 1979 that Iraq has hosted the tournament.

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