El Salvador prosecutors order arrest of five people over fatal stampede

AP Photo/Milton Flores

El Salvador's Public Prosecutor's Office ordered the arrest of five people allegedly responsible for the weekend stampede at the Cuscatlan stadium in the country's capital that left 12 fans dead during the second leg of the quarterfinal playoffs between Alianza FC and Club Deportivo.

The Public Prosecutor's Office has named three Alianza FC team officials, including the president, the security manager and the financial manager, as well as the general manager of Estadios Deportivos de El Salvador (EDESSA) and the person in charge of the stadium keys, who will be prosecuted for culpable homicide, culpable injury and public damage.

"Negligence in the organisation and greed, by over-selling, generated a human avalanche that caused the loss of lives, as well as injuries and endangered the safety of the attendees. They will be brought before the courts in the coming days," the Prosecutor's Office said on Twitter on Thursday.

A total of 12 fans died and hundreds were treated by rescue services last Saturday after a stampede was reported at one of the entrances to the general sector of the Cuscatlan stadium, an event that shocked football internationally.

According to the institution's investigations, the gates provided were not sufficient for the number of fans and the entrances were not opened early enough for an orderly and safe entry.

The organisers, having sold out the tickets available for the sporting event, decided to illegally sell tickets issued for previous matches, it added.

Reuters could not immediately contact those named or their lawyers.

Salvadoran Football Federation fined Alianza FC $30,000 and handed down a one-year stadium ban on Tuesday.

The domestic league season in El Salvador has been ended prematurely with no champion declared following Saturday's tragic events.

In a joint statement, the El Salvador FA (FESTFUT) and the league (Liga Primera Division), described Saturday's events as "deplorable" and "never to be repeated."

"As the governing body of Salvadoran soccer, FESFUT, and the organiser of the El Salvador National Championship, Liga Primera Division, we have determined to end the 2022-2023 El Salvador National Championship," a statement from the FESTFUT said.

"Our priority will be to ensure that security measures are strengthened at football events."

The statement added that both entities are receiving international advice from FIFA and Concacaf.

Subject to Concacaf's approval and based on last season's results, clubs CD FAS, Jocoro FC and CD Aguila will qualify for international competitions.

Alianza FC said in a statement that it was "devastated" by Saturday's tragic events and would cooperate with authorities in the investigation while also ensuring it would never happen again.

The association of top-flight football players in El Salvador (ASOFUTPROES) issued a statement against the decision taken by FESFUT, saying it would hold an urgent meeting to discuss the situation.

While regretting the death of the fans and wishing those injured a speedy recovery, the players said that the decision was taken without them being consulted and that they are "affected by the decisions taken."

Information from Reuters was used in this report.