The Africa Cup of Nations semi-final football match between Ghana and Equatorial Guinea on Thursday saw major unrest, with play suspended for over 30 minutes because of unruly crowd, media reports said. Several people, including a Confederation of African Football (CAF) official, reported injuries.
The Ghana Football Association (FA) described the disorderly situation as a “war zone” on its Twitter page, as players dodged bottles, Ghana fans ducked behind a goal for cover, and tear gas and a police helicopter were deployed to restore order. The second half of the game had to be halted briefly, as a player fled the field to avoid being hit with objects, including plates, glass, and other sharp materials, the BBC reported.
— Ghana FA Official (@ghanafaofficial) February 5, 2015
CAF officials had used the public address system during the game, threatening to call off the match if the crowd did not stop pelting Ghana’s players. After clearing most of the stands, play resumed for the final two minutes.
The violence was initially sparked by a controversial penalty in the 42nd minute. Ghana FA president Kwesi Nyantakyi downplayed the incident and stressed the quality of the other matches held so far.
"This has been a very successful tournament and this isolated incident of violence will leave a slur on the reputation of African football. It is very unfortunate and it doesn't deserve that," he told BBC.
Nyantakyi blamed the spectators, saying they needed to accept the course of the game. "They thought they were wrong and every decision they felt didn't go their way was met with some opposition. I don't think it is fair," he said.
When play resumed, Ghana secured a 3-0 win, moving on to the finals. Ghana players are set to face the Ivory Coast on Sunday, the Scottish Express reported.
Equatorial Guinea stepped in on short notice to hold the match, which was originally scheduled to be held in Morocco, but the plan was changed at the last minute due to the ongoing Ebola crisis. Equatorial Guinea's only previous experience with the Africa Cup of Nations was in 2012, when it reached the semi-finals.