File - Nejmeh and Ansar fans crowd the stadium during a football match in Tyre. (Photo courtesy Wurud Skaff)
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With thousands of fans climbing onto floodlights and sitting atop the Tyre Stadium's roof, spectators' safety was put at risk during last month's Beirut Football Derby between Ansar and Nejmeh.Hashem Haidar, president of Lebanon's Football Association, was quick to deny responsibility for the alarming scenes at the Feb. 26 derby, which were broadcast by various TV stations. The Tyre Stadium, which has 6,500 seats, was far over capacity, although the exact crowd size is unknown.Nejmeh boasts arguably the largest fan base of any domestic football team.The crowd's size was remarkable, given that the derby was played in Tyre, 82 kilometers away from both teams' home stadiums.The Camille Chamoun Stadium was in disrepair at the time, rendering the 48,000-capacity venue unavailable.The Beirut Municipality Stadium has the capacity to host 18,000 fans and is the traditional home field of Ansar. Fans of both teams made the long journey to watch the hotly anticipated derby, squeezing into the stadium.
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