AFP: Iranian security forces have been blamed for the deaths
of seven people in a post-match crush following last month's World Cup qualifier with Japan, the judiciary was reported as saying Wednesday. "The lack of unified management in the security forces, positioning a (helicopter) in front of the main
60-metre (yard) wide gate... and diverting the spectators to a secondary seven-metre wide gate... are the main reasons for the incident," Tehran newspapers quoted spokesman Jamal Karimi Rad as saying. AFP

TEHRAN - Iranian security forces have been blamed for the deaths of seven people in a post-match crush following last month's World Cup qualifier with Japan, the judiciary was reported as saying Wednesday.

"The lack of unified management in the security forces, positioning a (helicopter) in front of the main 60-metre (yard) wide gate... and diverting the spectators to a secondary seven-metre wide gate... are the main reasons for the incident," Tehran newspapers quoted spokesman Jamal Karimi Rad as saying.

Allowing 20,000 more spectators than the capacity 100,000 into Tehran's Azadi stadium also contributed to the deaths of seven people as fans tried to leave the stadium on March 25, said Karimi Rad.

Another spectator died of a heart attack during the match, raising the initial overall toll of six to eight. A further 40 were injured.

"The main gate was closed so the crowd dashed towards the secondary doors, but they were closed ... with the crowd pushing, we were ground through the bars," Bahzad Akandi, 18, who is being treated for a broken thigh, told Etemad newspaper.

Akandi said the crowd was screaming for the main gate to be opened, but that security forces said that would damage a helicopter parked in front of it.

"I had to wait for 15 minutes for (rescuers) to come and cut through the bars."

Stadium and security officials have been summoned by investigators, said Karimi Rad, with the enquiry set to wind up around April 20.

"FIFA opened an official investigation" on the stampede, the international body said on its website. It sent a fax to the Iranian federation "requesting further information on the tragic events," it added.

Iran won the match 2-1.

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