Stampede at David Beckham event in Shanghai injures five
Five people were injured in a stampede at a Shanghai university when fans scrambled to see visiting English soccer star David Beckham on Thursday afternoon.
The stampede happened around 2pm when the former English national team captain arrived at the entrance of Tongji University’s football stadium, according to Chinese website xinmin.com.
When the gate was opened to allow Beckham inside, the crowd assembled outside surged forward pushing fans, several security guards and police officers to the ground.
Up to 1,000 students and fans had gathered outside the stadium, with a large group of them jammed up tight near the entrance gate hoping to get a closer look at Beckham.
One female student recalled the chaotic scenes to the website.
"I was on the second row, wanting to take a photo of Beckham. Every one jostled each other. I wanted to get out of it but couldn’t," she said.
"Then I was pushed towards the gate. People in front of me fell but those from behind continue to push. Then I and others fell too."
The university said on its Sina Weibo microblog that at least two police officers, two security guards and one student were injured in the stampede.
One injured police officer was seen with his face covered in blood.
Video and photos online showed shoes, bags and other belongings from the students and fans scattered beside a fence near the entrance.
The event was immediately cancelled and Beckham left the stadium.
The 38-year-old Beckham is in China on a seven-day tour to promote the Chinese Super League. He was in Shanghai on Thursday after earlier visiting Beijing and Nanjing. But he was at the university to meet its soccer team.
A post on Beckham’s Sina Weibo microblog reads: " I had an incredible response from everyone at Shanghai Tongji University today, sorry I couldn't get out on the pitch to see the teams. It was impossible to get through the massive crowds. I heard there were a few injuries, hope the fans are ok, and I wish them a speedy recovery."
There were about 100 police officers and security guards at the stadium when Beckham arrived on the pitch to meet the Tongji University soccer team, but he was forced to leave a few minutes later when the stampede started.
"Anti-riot police were needed to fend off the over-excited fans," said Tony Ma, a player on the university team who was waiting for some training tips from Beckham.
"No one expected such a huge crowd for a football event," he said. "We were stunned by the female fans who came for the handsome face rather than the sport."
"We should have deployed at least another100 police and security staff to keep the event in order," said a teacher who helped organise the event, but declined to be identified to the Post,. "We underestimated the enthusiasm of the fans, particularly some over-excited young women."