The mere presence of football superstar David Beckham sent hundreds of Chinese fans into a frenzy, resulting in a stampede that left at least seven people hurt as they rushed to catch a glimpse of the famed athlete.
Three police officers, two university security guards and two students – one of them Japanese – were injured in the dash at Shanghai Tongji university Thursday where Beckham was to meet members of the university team.
According to Shanghai police, fans stormed through a gate and broke through a police cordon. Several people were hurt after being shoved to the ground, including security personnel who attempted to control the crowd.
Chu Dan, a Tongji University player, described the situation as “too crazy”. “We didn’t expect so many people showing up here – too many fans of Beckham,” he told The Associated Press.
The ruckus prompted authorities to cancel the event and Shanghai police said they would investigate.
The 38-year-old star, who recently retired, wished the injured speedy recoveries and expressed regret for the cancellation.
Beckham is in China on a seven-day promotional tour as an “image ambassador” for the Chinese Super League, China’s top football league.