DOHA, Qatar (AP) — A fan zone set up in central Doha turned into a chaotic scene Sunday on the first day of the World Cup as tens of thousands of fans pushed past police lines to enter the venue. to rock
Fans tried to get into the enclosed area, which has a big-screen TV to watch the game, places to buy beer and little else.
Riot police stood guard at the entrance with batons and shields. Some fans begged the officers to let them through the line.
Shortly after the opening match between Qatar and Ecuador in Al Khor, another Qatari city, only pregnant women and disabled fans were allowed to enter the fan zone through a special priority entrance.
“It’s very dangerous. People they can die,” said Hatim al-Berry, an Iraqi who said he works in neighboring Dubai. “The old people, the women, they can’t handle this kind of crowd. Thank God I’m a little taller, so I can breathe. But I saw some children and told them to get up. They couldn’t breathe. can.”
He said he saw people beating and kicking, and women crying.
“My family is inside. I can’t go inside to see them anymore. I don’t know what to do,” he said.
Luis Reyes, a Mexican-American who lives in Los Angeles, compared the crush to the scenes in South Korea a few weeks ago that left more than 150 dead.
“You can’t go back and you can’t go forward,” he said. “I told my son, ‘Let’s go outside. It’s too dangerous.’
It is unclear who was injured or arrested.
The deployment of riot police comes after a similar incident at a pre-World Cup concert on Saturday night saw people trying to force their way inside the fan zone on the Doha Corniche in Al Bada Park, Doha.