(Reuters) -The government of Argentina’s Buenos Aires province said it has fired the head of a security operation carried out on Thursday outside a soccer stadium, which resulted in violent clashes and the death of a fan.
Police fired tear gas outside the stadium during a league match between Gimnasia La Plata and Boca Juniors, which then drifted into the stadium making it difficult for players and spectators to breathe, causing people to leave in a state of panic.
Province security minister Sergio Berni told local television the fan had died of a heart problem as he was leaving the stadium.
Some 10,000 people had been waiting outside La Plata’s Juan Zerillo stadium unable to watch the match, according to security personnel, with another 20,000 already filling it inside.
Argentine authorities said on Friday police used rubber bullets and tear gas to force the fans back as they tried to force their way inside.
Players were seen covering their faces, while supporters entered the field as they tried to escape the tear gas. The Argentine top-flight match was stopped after nine minutes.
The province government said it was clear the operation was not able to provide security to those who attended the match, and that it was investigating whether the incident had been caused by overbooking.
“The Governor has instructed the security minister that the head of the operation be removed immediately and that all the evidence is placed at the prosecutor’s disposal,” it said.
“My two-year-old son couldn’t breathe,” ESPN quoted Gimnasia player Leonardo Morales as saying. “We feel desperate and worried about all the people in the stands.
“We were playing a normal football game and it turned it into this and the feeling that our relatives almost died,” he said.
The incident comes five days after a stampede at a soccer game in Indonesia killed at least 131 people when fans tried to flee a riot and tear gas fired by police in one of the world’s worst sporting disasters.
(Reporting by Reuters TV and Manasi Pathak; Writing by Steven Grattan; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Alistair Bell)