Soccer Fans Riot, 47 Hurt

Date Published: 
St. Joseph Gazette

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (UPI) — Forty-seven persons were injured when angry soccer fans awaiting their first opportunity to see the famous Brazilian star Pele in action stampeded out of the oval playing field here Tuesday, Trinidad police said Wednesday.

Police said one man was killed when the tree branch he and other persons were sitting on broke, falling 15 feet to the ground.

The riot erupted about 4:30 p.m., a few minutes before play was scheduled to being between Trinidad and Brazil's Santos team, which Pele led to fame.

Many fans had been waiting since 6 a.m. to see their idol. Angered by the delay in the arrival of the teams, some fans began hurling stones and bottles at police.

When police replied by lobbing tear gas bombs into the crowd of 50,000, hundreds panicked in a stampede toward the gates.

Brazil won the game, 1-0, on a goal by Pele two minutes after the game finally started 50 minutes late.

Soccer officials said the delay was caused by misrouting of the Brazilian team's equipment between Piarco International Airport and Port of Spain.

Prime Minister Eric Williams and Governor General Sir Solomon Hochoy were in the stands when the trouble started. They were taken away quickly by security guards and did not return to see the match.