HARARE - South Africa Football Association president Danny Jordaan paid tribute to the 13 victims of the National Sports Stadium disaster during the 2002 World Cup qualifier between the Warriors and Bafana Bafana on this day 15 years ago.
In a statement, Jordaan said: “It is a miserable day which should never be seen or repeated again. One human life lost is one too many.
“A football match is supposed to be a source of entertainment and families leave their respective homes to drown their week-long sorrows by watching the sport they enjoy most.
“And since South Africa’s readmission into Fifa in the early 1990s, some of the most enjoyable football encounters have been grudge matches involving Zimbabwe and South Africa.
“This World Cup match in the year 2000 was one such incident where the two friendly but fierce neighbours on the field of play clashed in a competitive encounter. Sadly the match had to be halted when the stampede occurred towards the end of the match.
“Losing football fans is sad enough but to see 13 lives perish at a soccer game is incomprehensible, heartbreaking and sobering. Never, and never again in a soccer match must such a solemn incident be allowed to happen.
Jordaan added: “Unfortunately, a year later the same fate with even graver consequences happened here in South Africa at Ellis Park Stadium where on April 11, 2001, 43 spectators lost their lives during a derby between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs.
“Fortunately, from both incidents, we have learned to control the crowds better, put up safety controls during big matches and beefed up security in a bid not to lose a single life.
“With us hosting the Fifa 2010 World Cup, we have also improved the disaster management matters; all in an effort to stop the disasters of 2000 and 2001 happening again.”
Efforts to get a comment from Zifa president Cuthbert Dube proved fruitless.