Police in El Salvador arrest soccer club officials after deadly stampede

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — Police in El Salvador have arrested the president of soccer club Alianza, as well as other club officials and stadium personnel, in connection with a stampede that left 12 fans dead last weekend.

The Attorney General’s Office said Thursday that Alianza President Pedro Hernández and club security manager Edwin Abarca Ventura were among several people arrested. It was not immediately clear who their lawyers were.

They were expected to make their initial court appearances in the coming days and could face charges of manslaughter, causing injury and public havoc.

Authorities said hundreds of fans were enraged Saturday night when they weren’t allowed to enter the stadium despite having tickets. They pushed until they knocked down an entrance gate, and people were crushed and suffocated under the pressure.

Prosecutors believe organizers of the game illegally sold more tickets than they should have. National Civil Police chief Mauricio Arriaza Chicas said they were also investigating the club’s organized fan groups.

The game was still in the first period when players on the field began looking toward the stands. Unconscious fans were being carried out of an entrance tunnel and onto the field where others tried frantically to revive them.

Earlier this week, the Salvadoran Soccer Federation’s Disciplinary Committee decided that Alianza would play without fans for one year and pay a $30,000 fine.

On Wednesday, the federation and the professional first division announced that the season was over. “Our priority will be to ensure that security measures are reinforced as soccer events,” they said in a statement.