NFS clarifies PM’s XIII incident

The Oil Search National Football Stadium has clarified the circumstances that led to spectators entering the field of play during the Prime Minister’s XIII men’s match on October 6th.

In a statement, NFS said the sequence of events that transpired are as follows:

  • At a point during the first half of the match, some spectators observed the movement of clouds high up above the light tower on the North West corner of the Stadium. The relative movement of the cloud formation behind the stationary light tower gave the illusion of the light tower moving/falling towards them.
  • The timing of this observation coincided with a Kumul player being substituted. As the Kumul player was leaving the field of play he looked up to see what the spectators were looking at. Seeing the same illusion as the spectators he then pointed up at the tower with concern visible on his face.
  • Because he was being observed by a large number of spectators in the North West and North East stands, this concern was inadvertently amplified, creating a chain reaction of panic in spectators who genuinely (but mistakenly) believed the light towers were about to fall on them.
  • This had a domino effect that resulted in large numbers of spectators instinctively seeking the quickest means to avoid the perceived threat – and that was to enter onto the field of play.
  • A small number of unaffected spectators in the North Stand took advantage of this situation and entered the field of play to try to interact with players on the field.
  • This disruption was brought under control, following a coordinated effort from police, security, the spectators themselves and venue staff.

“After the perceived threat had passed, and calm had been restored, the spectators were directed back to their seats and the game was able to resume. This interruption to the game spanned under 10 minutes,” stated Lee Pokarop, the general manager of the Oil Search National Football Stadium.

“The Oil Search National Football Stadium would like to commend the spirit and cooperation of the spectators who were involved in the incident for their goodwill and support in enabling the game to resume and run to completion without further incident.

“The catalyst that triggered the crowd panic resulting in this match interruption was highly unusual, but understandable as it was a perceived threat.

“The Oil Search National Football Stadium holds the safety of its spectators and staff in the highest regard,” Pokarop said.

“We will continue to strive to uphold the highest customer service, safety and behavioural standards that our valued customers, partners and stakeholders expect.

“This commitment is shared by the 260 strong workforce, police, fire and medical emergency services personnel that are deployed by the Oil Search National Football Stadium for each capacity event held at the Stadium.”

Press release