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FIFA 2018 qualifier: Kyrgyzstan - Australia
Osh (Kyrgyzstan), June 20th 2015

The national football team of Kyrgyzstan is positioned 177th on the FIFA world rankings. And that is not high. Still, we decided to see a game of them. After all, we were in the capital Bishkek and were fortunate that Australia came to visit this tiny Central Asian state in the context of the qualifiers of the 2018 World Championships in Russia. Kyrgyzstan never played such a big game on its own territory. Of course, the tickets were sold out for days, but luckily we still could grab some on the black market. Instead of paying the regular price of 200 Som (Euro 2.90) per ticket, we paid 300 Som (Euro 4.40). It became one of the most exciting football games we've ever seen. The game had everything: goals, battle, trampled spectators, cudgelling police, fans on the field, and lots of atmosphere.

When we arrived an hour before the match at the stadium, it was chaos. Thousands of fans were waiting/pushing in front of the gate to get in. Not only fans with a ticket, but also a lot of adventurers without a ticket, still hoping to get in. People got in slowly and when it all took too long, because the start of the game was approaching, people started pushing more and more. Panic broke out and especially women and children had a difficulties to keep out of the pressure. Fathers tried to bring their children to safety by lifting them up and weeping women did not know where to go. Ivonne could lift her legs without falling down. Police and military people were observing but nobody intervened.

Ivonne cheers with the home crowd

After half an hour of pushing and shuffling, we reach the fence and we can walk into the stadium. Tickets are not checked. Left and right we see fans without tickets climbing over the fences and walk into the stadium. There are many policemen and soldiers present, but again, no one intervenes when people are threatened to be trampled outside the gates. We decide quickly go to the stand to avoid being trampled. Shortly after we found our seats, the police opened the gates of the stadium. The pressure of the pushing crowd became too large and authorities wanted to avoid that people are crushed to death. Now the stadium fills up at a high speed with people with a ticket, but also a lot of people without a ticket. All those people tried to find a place to see the game. not only on the seats but also on the stairs and even in the light masts of the stadium. When the stadium got too full, the gates are closed to secure the safety of the people inside the stadium. We read in the newspapers, the next day, that many people with a ticket were not able to watch the game because the gates were already closed. There were even Australian supporters who came all the way from Australia and paid a lot of money to see this match. According to Australian journalists, this was the worst crowd control they've ever seen.

After the last wounded supporters were brought to safety by stretcher, the game could begin. The atmosphere is fabulous. The supporters of Kyrgyzstan know that they will not often receive such a great opponent in Bishkek and enjoy it to the fullest. There is singing, and the wave makes regular rounds in the stadium. Around the field is a cordon of police and soldiers that must prevent supporters entering the field. Supporters asked us where we come from. When they hear that we are from the Netherlands, they are proud. They find it amazing that people from such a big football country like the Netherlands, come to support the football dwarf Kyrgyzstan. Thirty seconds after the game started, the first goal falls. Australia scores 1-0 from a free kick. The disappointment is huge, but within no time, the supporters of Kyrgyzstan are back on the banks. And rightly so, because the football dwarf plays a good game and is certainly not weaker than Australia.

Chaos after the gates are put open to avoid trampling

A Kyrgyz goal hangs in the air. The 23,000 fans scream the red-shirts forward, but the chances they get are spoiled. If the ball once again flies high over the Australian goal and a supporter wants to keep the ball as a souvenir, he is hit down by a policeman. After a little while the 2-0 falls on the other side. The disappointment is great and a supporter of Kyrgyzstan runs on the field. He is also tackled harshly by the authorities. There are only fifteen minutes to play and the players of Kyrgyzstan certainly do not throw the towel in the ring. They deserve a goal, and that’s where they go for. And they have to do it also for their fans, because most of them experience their biggest football night of their lives. The supporters open their throats one more time and yell their men forward. And with results. In the 90th minute, Kyrgyzstan scores and the fans go mad. This is they came for and they got it.

Some videos about the chaos:



Us in the Spartak Stadium of Bishkek
Soldiers have more attention for the game then the safety of the spectators
Amazing atmosphere
'victory lap' of the Kyrgyz team after their defeat against Australia
Fan are still happy, because they didn't expect to win

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