Soccer hell in Sphinx-land
Egypt's Port Said Stadium bathes in blood as violent fans clash, world's worst football disaster in 15 years. Pitch invasions | Ultras who? | In the arenaworld Updated: Feb 03, 2012 01:40 IST
At least 74 people were killed and hundreds injured in fan violence Wednesday after a football match in the Egyptian city of Port Said, in what FIFA called a “black day for football.”
The clashes in the northern city — blamed by the Muslim Brotherhood on supporters of fallen president Hosni Mubarak — came as the country struggled with a wave of incidents linked to poor security.
“The death toll has now reached 74, including one policeman, in the unrest after the match between Al-Ahly and Al-Masri,” the health ministry said in a statement. Hundreds were injured.
Army deployed, Fifa seeks explanation
The army deployed troops in Port Said “to prevent further clashes between fans of Al-Ahly and Al-Masri,” state television reported, adding the military had secured the road out of the city.
Crowds of Egyptian soccer fans fleeing supporters of the opposing team armed with knives, clubs and stones rushed into the corridor, only to be crushed against a locked gate, their rivals attacking from behind.
Fifa said the regulations are not only “guidelines for competitions and matches not organised by Fifa” but that organisers and local authorities need “to apply their own safety regulations” and also added, “FIFA has asked the Egyptian authorities for a full report on the incidents in order to evaluate what happened.”
Blame game begins, country in mourning
Many Egyptians, from the public to lawmakers, on Thursday blamed the police and the country’s ruling military for failing to prevent the rioting. Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri announced he had dissolved the Egyptian Soccer Federation’s board. The country began three days of mourning on Thursday.
Some accused the police of allowing the riot to happen out of vengeance against the ultras who are bitter enemies of the police and have been among the most aggressive protesters over the past year. The ultras, backers of Al-Ahly club, were at the forefront of violent protests a year ago that led to the collapse of the police force.