Indonesia police: Stadium exit gates too small for escape
DHAKA, Bangladesh — It would take the fire, the water and the shrapnel to tear through the stadium exit gate.
But as the men and women of the national football team exited the Dhaka stadium to begin their march to escape, they were met by a wall. With no room for anyone beyond the exit, the team was forced to sprint after the group of policemen on the other side — each trying to bar the way.
It was a day of great drama and tragedy, for all involved and, in some cases, for none. But while the game continued and the country reeled, the men and women of football were denied a chance at glory and in the end, they lost.
That seemed to be the only outcome from the match between the team and the side that had been preparing to enter the world’s top football competition for the first time.
“I’m going to make a speech,” a man shouted at the beginning of the game.
“What should I say?” another asked the referee.
“Tell them that they’ll be here at 6 o’clock. Tell them to come back at 6 o’clock,” the referee replied.
“I made a vow to God,” said a player, “that I would stop playing football until the team finishes this game, until the world cup comes to Bangladesh. But now it’s been decided.”
In fact, the whole country had decided. There was no more time for the individual — not for the players on the pitch, but for the nation.
This was not a game. This was a day of national survival.
In Dhaka, the match was stopped around 8:30 p.m., after the referee signaled for the game to be stopped because of the crowd noise.
In a stadium where this was never a problem, thousands of people, some sleeping, others sleeping in cars, spilled out onto the street. Security guards, some still dressed in full football gear, tried to cor