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Soccer Riot in Peru Kills 350

May 24, 1964 - A referee’s decision giving Argentina a 1-0 victory over Peru in an Olympic elimination soccer game today sparked a riot in which at least 350 persons died in a stampede of some 40,000 fans to escape police tear gas. Five hundred others were injured. At least four of the dead were believed shot by police, who fired in an effort to stem the rioting.

Most of the victims were trampled to death.

The tragedy was reported as the worst in sports history and triggered a Government order for martial law for 30 days. The announcement was made by President Fernando Belaunde in a nationwide broadcast.

The greatest toll came near the south end of the stadium where the low-cost end zone seats are located.

Enraged fans had chased Uruguayan referee A. Angel Pazos into a locker room and were battering at the door when police lobbed dozens of tear gas grenades into the stands and released police dogs.

The mob panicked and stampeded into tunnel exits, which had been barred to ward off gate crashers. As those inside the tunnels attempted to fight their way out, more people pushed in as the tear-gas barrage continued.

Many women and children were among the victims.

The crowd finally smashed out through a wire fence.

Blood spattered the concrete ramps leading out of the stadium, and newspapers lying on the ground were soaked with blood.

A portable basketball floor underneath the stadium was set afire. Police were hindered by gangs of hoodlums outside the stadium who joined in the fighting.

As darkness fell, some vandals were caught going through the pockets of the dead and injured, stealing money, watches, and rings.

The game itself, part of a selection tournament to name the two Latin American amateur soccer teams for the Tokyo Olympics, had been violent, with frequent warnings by the referee for excessive body contact. A goal by Peruvian Enrique Lobaton would have tied the score with two minutes to play.

Referee Pazos annulled the goal, alleging Lobaton roughed an Argentine defender in scoring. When two fans came onto the field and attacked Pazos with their fists, he suspended the game for lack of sufficient police security.

Police spirited him and the players to the locker room as the crowd pursued and battered at the locked doors.

It was then that police lobbed tear gas grenades, setting off the panic.

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