At least 50 individuals were injured when the temporary gallery in a football stadium at Palakkad collapsed on Sunday. A charity match had been organized at the venue to raise funds for the family of R Dhanarajan, a footballer, who had died of a cardiac arrest on the field during an All India Sevens tournament game at Perintalmanna in Malappuram district.
Indian football stalwarts Bhaichung Bhutia and IM Vijayan were present at the stadium during the incident. However, the police clarified that they are safe.
"As per our preliminary count, nearly 50 got injured in the accident in a temporary gallery. They have been shifted to various hospitals in the area. None has suffered any serious injury," police said.
Palakkad MP V K Sreekandan said, "This unfortunate incident happened just before the match. As per the preliminary reports none has suffered any serious injury. The police, fire brigade and the volunteers are coordinating well to help the injured."
Dhanarajan had formerly turned out for clubs like East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. He had been playing a football game for FC Perintalmanna against Sastha Medicals FC Thrissur when the injury had occurred on December 29. The 39-year old footballer collapsed midway during the seven-a-side game, after which he had been rushed to the hospital. However, the doctors had declared him dead on arrival.
He had started his career at Chirag United and also represented Mohammedan Sporting in his 11-year professional career as a footballer. Dhanarajan's death had sent shock waves around the Indian football fraternity, with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and Mohun Bagan, his former club, sending out heartfelt condolences and tributes.
The collapse of the gallery indicates serious negligence on the part of the stadium authorities. Though their intention of hosting an exhibition game and raise funds for a footballer who turned out for their district is applaudable, the hurried manner in which it was conducted, with little emphasis given to safety, needs to be investigated.