Bishop in Cameroon Expresses Solidarity with Victims, Families of Stadium Stampede

Yaoundé Olembe Stadium. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ebolowa in Cameroon has expressed solidarity and spiritual closeness with the victims and families of the stadium stampede earlier this week in the country’s capital, Yaounde.

In a Tuesday, January 25 press release obtained by ACI Africa, the government of Cameroon reported that at least eight football fans died following the Monday, January 24 stampede at Yaoundé Olembe Stadium when football fans stormed the facility to watch the country’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) match against Comoros.

The Cameroonian government confirmed that “38 people were injured in the tragedy, including seven seriously.”

In a statement shared with ACI Africa Tuesday, January 25, the Local Ordinary of Cameroon’s Ebolowa Diocese prays for the souls of the fans who lost their lives, entrusting them “to the Lord.”

“I entrust to the Lord the souls of all Cameroonians who died as a result of the incident at the entrance of the Olembe stadium,” Bishop Philippe Alain Mbarga says.


Bishop Mbarga adds, “I pray for the bereaved families and reassure them of my prayerful closeness. To the injured, I wish them a speedy recovery!”

“Let us not forget that suffering is part of our earthly life, as is death. We push it away, we groan when it knocks at our door,” the Cameroonian Catholic Bishop says in his January 25 statement.

In these unbearable moments, he goes on to say, “The Psalter can help us to better apprehend the mystery of our trial and to get through it.”

“May the souls of all the faithful departed rest in perfect peace,” Bishop Mbarga implores in his message shared with ACI Africa.

In the Cameroonian government’s January 25 press release, “The Head of State ordered the opening of an investigation so that all the light is shed on this tragic incident,” the government says in the statement signed by Communication Minister, Rene Emmanuel Sadi.

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The leadership of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), the continent’s soccer government body, has said that it was also investigating the incident.

In a Tuesday, January 25 press conference, CAF President, Patrice Motsepe, faulted security officials who closed the gate at the entrance to the stadium.

“That gate was supposed to be open because if it was open, they would have walked through, and for inexplicable reasons it was closed,” Mr. Motsepe has been quoted as telling journalists during the press conference in Yaoundé.

He further posed, “If that gate was open as it was supposed to, we wouldn’t have had this problem we have now, this loss of life. Who closed that gate? Who is responsible for that gate?”

“CAF is currently investigating the situation and trying to get more details on what transpired. We are in constant communication with the Cameroon government and the Local Organizing Committee,” CAF President said.


He further said that the Afcon quarter-final match that was to be played at the Olembe Stadium on Sunday, January 30 would be played at Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium, also in Yaoundé.

A moment of silence will also be observed before each match, Mr. Motsepe said, adding that “players of all teams will wear black armbands.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.