Stadium tragedy

Paraguay's stadium shut after fatal accident

February 2, 2009

Paraguay's national soccer stadium, the Defensores del Chaco, has been closed indefinitely after two policemen were killed in an accident, the head of the country's football association said Monday.

The accident, which left five other officers injured, happened when part of concrete ramp collapsed while an amateur match was taking place on Sunday, police said.

"Part of the structure gave way and fell on seven uniformed officers who were 10 to 12 metres below," Viviano Machado, head of Paraguay's national police force, told reporters.

"We are crying over the deaths of two companions who were fulfilling their duty."

The Defensores del Chaco is used to stage all of Paraguay's home international matches and most Libertadores Cup games involving the country's clubs.

It was the main venue for the Copa America which the country hosted in 1999.

"The Defensores undergoes periodic reviews and maintenance demanded by FIFA," Juan Angel Napout, head of the Paraguayan Football Association (APF) told reporters. "But regrettably, this happened."

Paraguay's next home World Cup qualifier is against Chile on June 6. The Defensores del Chaco is the only stadium in the country which has been approved by FIFA to stage World Cup qualifiers.

Napout said the domestic championship, due to begin next Sunday, would be postponed.