Oct. 16 (GIN) – What should have been a thrilling match between neighbors, became frightening pandemonium as furious Senegalese spectators rained bottles, rocks, and firecrackers on players and fans from the Ivory Coast whose soccer team had just scored a goal that put them ahead 2-0.
The match was called off in the 74th minute after famed striker Didier Drogba scored his side’s second goal from the penalty spot.
The goal was the match that sparked the riot. Senegalese fans set fire to their own flag and began tearing up the stands at the Leopold Senghor stadium, throwing missiles and chairs onto the pitch.
A section of the metal fencing separating two parts of the stadium was torn apart, forcing police to fire tear gas to break up the mob. After some 40 minutes suspension, the referee was forced to call off the second-leg, final-round qualifier.
Among the injured was Senegal’s minister of sports, who was hit in the head by a rock, while the Senegalese Press Agency said a match official was also hit by a projectile.
It’s a shame, it’s regrettable,” said Mbaye Ndiaye, the Senegal interior minister. “But we say bravo to the Ivory Coast team for their achievement, their behavior, wisdom and sense of fair play.” The West African team has been disqualified from next year’s African Cup of Nations to be held Jan. 19 to Feb. 10 in South Africa.