Alianza FC and Club Deportivo Fas were playing the second leg of their playoff quarter-final game at the Estadio Cuscatlán in San Salvador, the country’s capital, when play was suspended after 16 minutes.
“The Salvadoran Football Federation deeply regrets the events that occurred at the Cuscatlán Stadium,” the country’s football governing body wrote on Twitter. “It also expresses solidarity with the relatives of those affected and deceased in this incident.”
The federation added that it would immediately request a report on the incident while also suspending the tournament after Saturday’s events, calling for a meeting with the national security commission for sport venues on Sunday.
The Estadio Cuscatlán is one of the largest stadiums in Central America and has an official capacity of more than 44,000 fans. Footage posted online showed severe overcrowding outside an entry gate, with officials claiming they would investigate reports of fake match tickets being sold.
The president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, said the national civil police and the attorney general’s office would conduct a thorough investigation into the events at the stadium. “Everyone will be investigated: teams, managers, stadium, box office, league, federation, etc,” Bukele wrote on Twitter. “Whoever the culprits are, they will not go unpunished.”
Officials added that about 500 people had been given medical treatment at the stadium, with around 100 of those transferred to nearby hospitals. The country’s health minister, Francisco Alabi, said that most of those injured are in a stable condition and that there have been no reports of deaths from hospitals.
The Spanish clubs Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid both posted messages on Twitter after news of the tragedy broke. “Real Madrid wishes to express their condolences and affection to the loved ones of the fans who passed away at the Cuscatlán stadium in El Salvador, and their desire for a swift recovery for those affected by this tragedy.”
“We regret the enormous tragedy that occurred at the Cuscatlán stadium in El Salvador and we convey our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims,” Atlético Madrid wrote. “Rest in peace.”
Last October, a deadly crowd crush killed 135 spectators at Kanjuruhan stadium in East Java, Indonesia. Many were crushed as they fled for exits after police fired tear gas into the crowd during the game between Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya.