England fans' fears as they are caught up in crowd surge in Qatar

‘They’re gonna get trampled, there’s too many people!’ England supporters’ fears as they are caught up in fan clashes with Qatari officials and police outside Morocco-Spain match

  • Spain and Morocco met in the last-16 of the World Cup in Qatar tonight
  • Ahead of the match, chaotic scenes unfolded outside Education City Stadium
  • Qatari police were seen shoving fans down a narrow path between fences 
  • Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results

Qatari riot police turned on football supporters on Tuesday night ahead of the World Cup clash between Spain and Morocco, with fans fearing they could be trampled.

Several clips of the chaos near Al Rayyan’s Education City Stadium showed police in riot gear pushing and shoving fans – crushing them up against a chain link fence – while other footage showed fights breaking out.

In one clip, a woman – wearing Spanish colours but speaking with an English accent – can be heard pleading to the police officers. She tells them that there is a baby in the crowd, saying: ‘They’re gonna get trampled, there’s too many people.’

The frightening footage shows screaming and shouting fans of both teams – as well as neutral supporters hoping to watch the game – being funnelled down a narrow pathway between two chain link fences.

Pictured: Qatar police (seen right in blue-trimmed uniforms) are seen pushing into the back of a crowd containing Spanish and Moroccan fans ahead of their World Cup clash on Tuesday 

Pictured: Qatari riot police are seen lined up as fans arrive to watch their team’s match against Spain on Tuesday night at the Education City Stadium

Qatari riot cops are seen at one end, blocking the way of the crowd and shoving supporters down the path.

People on the other side of the fence are seen trying to get the attention of the officers, pointing to people who are being pressed against the fence.

Some of the fans can be seen being shoved into the fences and into the back other supporters. Other fans are seen clinging onto the fence, trying to stop themselves from being pulled into the crowd.

In one clip, one of the Qatari officers – shown by their blue-trimmed uniforms – is seen taking a run-up before crashing the back of a group of fans.

Riot police had blocked off the main entrance 20 minutes before kick-off. Mounted patrolling the stadium were roundly booed by fans gathered outside.

One security officer told Sportsmail that this had been done because fans trying to enter did not have tickets. But many supporters caught up in the commotion shouted to officers that they did have tickets.

Pictured: A woman (left) is seen trying to get the attention of police officers. Speaking with an English accent, she is heard telling police that there is a baby in the crowd

The woman (left) – wearing Spanish colours but speaking with an English accent – can be heard pleading to the police officers. She tells them that there is a baby in the crowd, saying: ‘They’re gonna get trampled, there’s too many people’

One fan told Sportsmail that fans had turned up hoping to get a ticket on arrival. Another said a ‘rich Morcoccan’ had bought a number of tickets and was giving them out to fans at the Al Janoub stadium a short distance away, but that they were only available to people with Moroccan passports.

Another supporter showed Sportsmail a screenshot of a ticket, that was not valid, before trying and failing to enter. The fan in question had said they had managed to enter previous Moroccan games in this way.

Security had managed to calm the situation as the game started, with some fans watching on their phone. Supporters had been allowed to stand outside the spectator entrance during first half but more clashes happened after a police officer was seen losing control of his horse. 

Supporters were furiously pushed back again, with some pushed up against the wired fence. Fans caught up in the incident shouted those filming to ‘please stay and report, don’t leave.’ 

Sportsmail learned that the second incident was caused when the entrance to the stadium was shut before fans had the chance of getting in – causing some to push forward, and the police to react by pushing back.

It is also understood that the riot police being used to control matchday crowds from Turkey, with Turkish flag on their helmets – while the security officers are Qatari.

Crowd crushes can be fatal. On October 29, a crush occurred during a Halloween festival in Seoul, South Korea, killing at least 158 people when thousands flooded into a narrow street from both ends.

Pictured: Fans are shown being crushed up against a chain-link fence in Qatar on Tuesday

Pictured: Supporters are shown backed-up against the chain-link fence on Tuesday

And in May this year, before the Champions League Final between Liverpool and Real Madrid in Paris, a crisis was narrowly avoided when fans were funnelled through an unsuitable approach to the Stade de France.

Parisian authorities have been accused of multiple failings in their organisation, but have been resistant to taking responsibility for the near-disaster. 

The incident recalled the Hillsborough disaster of 1989, which resulted in the deaths of 97 Liverpool fans in Sheffield.

According to Reuters news agency, Morocco fans desperate to attend their country’s World Cup match sought to breach a security cordon near the stadium on Wednesday, prompting riot police to push them back and seal off the route.

Many Moroccan fans had been seeking scarce tickets for the knockout game against 2010 champions Spain, hoping to see their team advance to its first quarter-final.

The last Arab and African side left in World Cup, Morocco has been willed on by some of the most impassioned fans at the tournament.

But Morocco’s matches have also been testing for organisers. There was pushing and shoving outside the stadium as ticketless fans gathered ahead of its Dec. 1 defeat of Canada, with some trying to climb the fence.

Ahead of Tuesday’s kickoff, reporters at the ground said security appeared tighter than at other games, with rows of riot police deployed on the ground and on horseback as fans walked towards the stadium.

Marshals at the stadium perimeter shouted ‘show your tickets please’ at approaching fans and guards checked for tickets before letting them through.

A crowd of Moroccan fans without tickets waited beyond the security cordon. ‘We hope to get in,’ said one man, who declined to give his name.

Some tried to push their way through the edge of the cordon, squeezing between police and a fence.

There was screaming and pushing as more fans gathered and police on horseback advanced towards fans trying to get in.

‘Brothers, you are wasting your time. There is no entrance here,’ a marshal screamed into a bullhorn as more and more fans gathered.

Pictured: Moroccan fans are seen in the stands during their team’s clash against Spain tonight

Reuters contacted the committee responsible for World Cup security at the Qatari ministry of interior for comment but there was no immediate response.

As the match kicked off, many fans outside the stadium began watching on their mobile phones as a crowd of many hundreds of people milled about, many still asking for tickets.

While Morocco, in the last 16 for the first time since 1986, is the underdog, the support of its vociferous, red-clan fans has been seen as a big asset in the first World Cup hosted by an Arab state.

The match may gain piquancy from the familiarity of the opponents. The Spanish mainland is visible from Morocco across the Strait of Gibraltar and thousands of Moroccans live there for work.

As a colonial power, Spain controlled swathes of northern Morocco as well as the disputed territory of Western Sahara, which Rabat sees as its own, and still retains two small North African enclaves at Ceuta and Melilla that Rabat says it should quit.

Diplomatic ties improved this year after Morocco had withdrawn its ambassador to Spain in 2021 in a dispute over Madrid’s handling of medical treatment for a Western Sahara separatist leader.

The Moroccan consulate in Spain has asked fans to ‘show sportsmanship regardless of the result’ and to avoid doing anything that could trigger incidents with Spanish fans.

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