Fan riot halts Senegal-Ivory Coast football match

The BBC's John Bennett, who was at the match, reports on the riot

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A crucial Africa Cup of Nations football match between Senegal and Ivory Coast has been abandoned after fans rioted at a stadium in Dakar.

Home fans started fires in the stands and threw objects on the pitch as Senegal were losing 2-0, a result which would have eliminated the team.

Ivorian fans jumped down on the pitch to escape the violence.

The fans and the Ivorian players were then escorted by police, who fired tear gas into the packed stands.

Start Quote

There were fires started from garbage and they (fans) were tearing the flags down, even their own, which was pretty disturbing”

End Quote Chris Fuglestad Eyewitness

Reports say about 10 people - including Senegalese Sports Minister Hadji Malick Gakou - were injured in the violence on the Stade Leopold Sedar Senghor stadium.

Sanction threat

The violence erupted after Ivorian striker Didier Drogba had scored his second goal from the penalty spot, with about 15 minutes left to play.

The result would have extended Ivory Coast's overall lead to 6-2 in the two-leg tie.

"Food, drinks and anything that could be thrown was being thrown on to the pitch, from all angles," Chris Fuglestad, a US student studying in Dakar, told the BBC.

"There were fires started from garbage and they (fans) were tearing the flags down, even their own, which was pretty disturbing.

"We felt safer inside the stadium than outside, so we waited inside. When we left it was calming down though there was lots of tear gas," Mr Fuglestad added.

Riot police escort Ivorian players out of the stadium Ivorian players were led out of the stadium by police holding shields

Dozens of Ivorian fans were forced to run onto the pitch to escape the violence.

The fans and the players were then led out of the stadium by police holding shields, as fans continued to hurl objects.

"After 40 minutes suspension, the decision was taken to abandon the match," a local official was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

Reports say clashes continued on the streets outside the stadium.

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has so far made no public comments on the issue.

But a Senegalese official was quoted as saying that the team would now be sanctioned by the Caf.

Manchester City brothers Yaya and Kolo Toure were in the Ivory Coast team - and the Premier League side said in a statement: "City's Yaya and Kolo Toure are both safe after crowd trouble halted play as Senegal hosted the Ivory Coast in Dakar."

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