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15 injured in South Africa soccer stampede

June 6, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Fifteen people including one police officer were injured when thousands of soccer fans stampeded outside of a South African stadium Sunday before an exhibition game between North Korea and Nigeria.Outside of the Makhulong Stadium in the Johannesburg suburb, which seats about 12,000 fans, several fans fell under the rush of fans, many wearing Nigeria jerseys.

The chaos comes only five days before the start of the World Cup, the first to be held in Africa.

According to police spokesman Lt. Col. Eugene Opperman, the injured individuals were being treated at a nearby hospital. Opperman said that the stampede broke out when fans were scrambling to grab the free tickets which were being distributed just outside the stadium. Opperman said the mayhem ensued when the gates were opened.

FIFA, soccer's international governing body, said it had nothing to do with the ticketing.

The North Korean and Nigeria teams were lining up for the national anthems when the stampede occurred and had no idea what was going on outside. The match was suspended for about 10 minutes shortly after the second half started. The Nigerians won 3-1.

Such chaos is not uncommon to soccer. Last year, FIFA fined Ivory Coast's federation $46,800 after 22 people died in a stampede at a World Cup qualifying match.

AP contributed to this report.

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