Supporters could have died in crowd trouble which marred an Africa Cup of Nations semi-final, the Ghana FA president has told the BBC. “We’re lucky we haven’t lost any lives, though people have sustained injuries arising from objects thrown at them,” said Ghana FA chief Kwesi Nyantakyi.
Play was halted for 30 minutes as home fans rioted at Malabo Stadium where Ghana beat hosts Equatorial Guinea 3-0.
Police used tear gas as bottles and stones were thrown by home supporters.
A large group of Ghana fans sought safety behind a goal, while unruly spectators threw objects at a police helicopter which hovered over the 15,250-capacity Malabo Stadium.
The Ghana FA said it was “like a war zone” and Nyantakyi described the conduct of some Equatorial Guinea supporters as “the highest state of barbarism”.
He told BBC World Service: “African football has grown beyond this level and in the 21st century we expect to see more decency in the behaviour of fans.
“A high-profile game of this nature should have attracted police, intelligence officers and military.
“I couldn’t have counted 50 policemen at the stadium, the rest were from Angola, who were not familiar with the terrain, so they didn’t know how to handle the situation. So the Ghanaian fans were left at the mercy of these violent fans. ”
The Confederation of African Football (Caf) refused to take questions about the crowd trouble after the match.
Emilio Nsue, captain of Equatorial Guinea, said: “Regarding the public and the way they acted, I’ve never experienced that. I’d like to say sorry. It was something we’ve never experienced before.”
Equatorial Guinea agreed to host the tournament after Morocco pulled out in November because of its fears over the Ebola outbreak elsewhere on the continent.
Ghana will play Ivory Coast, who beat DR Congo 3-1, in Sunday’s final in Bata.
The third-place playoff, between Equatorial Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is scheduled for Saturday.
It is due to be played at the stadium in Malabo, which is situated on an island to the north-west of the Equatorial Guinea mainland and is one of four tournament venues.
Trouble at the semi-final match flared at half-time with Ghana already 2-0 up in the tie. The second half was then halted eight minutes from time, before resuming after a delay.
BBC World Service reporter Piers Edwards was with the visiting supporters as they left the stadium and said some were taken to hospital.
He picked up several objects that ended up on the pitch, including a jagged piece of broken mirror, half a plate and a rock.