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Stampede at Beckham event injures seven in China

Hundreds of students and spectators tried to rush onto the grounds of the football pitch to see the former England skipper.

David Beckham wipes his sweat during his speech at a charity event at the Soong Ching Ling Residence in Beijing earlier this week.
David Beckham wipes his sweat during his speech at a charity event at the Soong Ching Ling Residence in Beijing earlier this week.
Image: Andy Wong/AP/Press Association Images

SEVEN PEOPLE WERE  hurt in a stampede today as hundreds of fans rushed to see football superstar David Beckham at an event in China’s commercial hub Shanghai, police and local media said.

Beckham, who was visiting Shanghai in his role as ambassador to the troubled Chinese Super League (CSL), expressed hope that the injured would recover quickly after the event had to be called off.

The stampede occurred when hundreds of students and spectators tried to rush onto the grounds of the football pitch at Tongji University in northeastern Shanghai, the Xinmin Evening News said.

“Nearly 1,000 spectators charged to open the gate at the same time, causing a stampede,” the newspaper said on its microblog.

Police said seven people were injured including three police officers and two university security guards, all of whom suffered cuts and bruises. Two students, including a Japanese exchange student, also sustained minor injuries, police said in a statement.

“I was standing in the second row to take a picture of Beckham and then people started to push against each other,” a woman said in a video posted by Xinmin Evening News. “Someone in the front fell but people at the back were still pushing, so I fell over too. I couldn’t breathe. I was really almost dying,” she said.

An AFP photographer saw a woman with an injured leg and a uniformed policewoman bleeding. The policewoman had blood covering her face and looked dazed. Among those attending to her was a man wearing a replica of Beckham’s old Manchester United jersey, with the footballer’s name and the number “7″ on the back.

In a posting on his new account on Sina Weibo, China’s equivalent to Twitter, Beckham apologised for the event’s cancellation. The former England captain was scheduled to play with the university’s team and the youth team of a local football club.

“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,” he said. “I heard there were a few injuries, hope the fans are ok and I wish them a speedy recovery,” he added.

Beckham did not appear to be in danger at any point, though students earlier broke through a police line to surround his car as he approached the pitch, the AFP photographer said.

© AFP, 2013

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