2023 AFCON: 17,000 Soldiers, Police To Protect Super Eagles, Fans From Jihadis

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Youssouf Kouyate, Director-general of the Cote d’Ivoire police, said they had measures in place for all six stadiums to avoid a similar tragedy — with organizers expecting 1.5 million fans from outside the country ;AFP-JiJi.

Aside from the external security risk posed by jihadis based in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire authorities have moved to quell fears over crowd control which has been the source of most anxiety due to what happened in Yaounde two years ago.

The last-16 clash between hosts Cameroon and the Comoros resulted in eight dying and dozens injured due to a crush as home fans piled in to watch.

“We are going to open the gates to the stadia very early, we will ensure the spectators form an orderly queue so they can enter the stadium without any trouble,” he said.

“We are going to demand spectators come early.”

There will be some 17,000 soldiers and police deployed for the tournament and 2,500 stadium staff.

“It is after all not the first big sporting event Ivory Coast has had to organize,” said Kouyate.

“We hosted the Francophone Games (in 2017). We are calm.”

It was not so calm a few months ago when, to the embarrassment of the organizers, torrential rain flooded the pitch at the 60,000-capacity Ebimpe Olympic Stadium which had been specially constructed at an enormous cost for the tournament.

The stadium is due to host 10 matches including the opening game between Ivory Coast and Guinea-Bissau on Jan. 13, and the final on Feb. 11.