Egypt Football Disaster Kills 74, Hurts Scores

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At least 74 people were killed and hundreds injured when rival fans clashed Wednesday after a football match in Port Said, highlighting a security vacuum in post-revolution Egypt.

In one of the deadliest incidents in the sport's history, violence erupted as soon as the referee blew the final whistle in a match which saw home team al-Masri beat Cairo's al-Ahly 3-1.

Al-Masri fans flooded the pitch, throwing rocks, bottles and fireworks at al-Ahly supporters, sparking chaos and panic as al-Ahly players and fans ran in all directions trying to flee, witnesses said.

Photos of bleeding players circulated on the Internet.

Gunfire was also reported on the main road leading to Port Said from Cairo, and troops were deployed to prevent further clashes.

"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.

"Most of the people were killed in the crush," Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim added, while medics said some of the deaths were the result of stab wounds.

State television said around 1,000 people were injured in the violence but the interior ministry put the number at 248.

The ruling military announced three days of national mourning, while the Port Said security chief was summoned to Cairo over the events.

The clashes in the northern city -- blamed by the Muslim Brotherhood on supporters of fallen president Hosni Mubarak -- came as the country struggles with a wave of incidents linked to poor security.

Shops in Port Said, which sits at the entrance to the Suez Canal, shut their doors as private cars helped to shuttle the injured across the city to hospitals.

Politicians, fans and players took to social media to express their fury over the violence which caps a year of political upheaval and unrest after the uprising that unseated Mubarak.

"There are dead people lying on the ground! There are dead people in the changing room," al-Ahly striker Emad Meteab told the team's satellite channel.

"I won't play football anymore until these people get justice," a furious Meteab said.

State television showed footage of riot police standing rigidly in rows, as pandemonium erupted around them.

Egypt's hated police force had recently come under fire for its heavy-handed tactics and had been given instructions to deal carefully with protesters, sources said.

The interior ministry said 47 people were arrested, as the prosecutor general ordered an immediate investigation into the violence.

Shortly after the clashes, 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.

Egypt's military ruler, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi who took power when the veteran Mubarak was ousted in a popular uprising last February, sent two military planes to Port Said to fly out the players and the injured, state television reported.

He stressed that the country's security "is fine" as he waited at an airport in east Cairo to meet the players and wounded fans.

In Geneva, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said he was "very shocked and saddened to learn this evening that a large number of football supporters have died or been injured."

"This is a black day for football. Such a catastrophic situation is unimaginable and should not happen," he said.

Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzuri was to hold an emergency cabinet meeting on Thursday to discuss the events.

Politicians in Cairo expressed fury at the deaths, with newly-elected liberal MP Amr Hamzawy calling for the sacking of the interior minister and Port Said's governor and security chief.

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest political force, accused Mubarak supporters of instigating the football violence.

"The events in Port Said are planned and are a message from the remnants of the former regime," said MP Essam al-Erian in a statement on the Islamist group's Freedom and Justice Party website.

Comments 12
Default-user-icon Toujo (Guest) 01 February 2012, 22:25

This is the kind of people that loves democracy and wants it so badly!!! Arab Spring my left foot.

Default-user-icon LebExile (Guest) 01 February 2012, 22:57

this is unbelievable - over a football match. I'm speechless

Missing youssefhaddad 01 February 2012, 23:17

If the dictator is no longer around to kill them they do it themselves!!!

Default-user-icon reformation (Guest) 02 February 2012, 01:48

arab springs turn into arab falls because of lawlessness.

Default-user-icon NaharnetWillCensorThis (Guest) 02 February 2012, 02:00

To Syrian:
Nobody loves dictators. I'm a diehard M8, someone who lived most of my life in Southern Lebanon and someone who felt the effect of the Israeli raids / occupation. I've had members of my family die. I don't speak for everyone when I say this, but I don't like Bashar, in fact, I hate anyone who kills, let alone kill his people.

The only thing I like about him, is the unconditionnal support he gave to the Palestinian and anti-Israel struggle. Without him (or his father), my hometown would still be under occupation.

So yes, I'd be 100% behind letting this murderer go, but I can't help but be afraid of who might replace him. None of that American-imperialism crap. We want an arab, a nationalist.

Default-user-icon Rima Hanna (Guest) 02 February 2012, 02:58


Thumb Chupachups 02 February 2012, 03:52

RIP to the dead... but seriously, why? even animals have more sense than this

Default-user-icon memento (Guest) 02 February 2012, 09:54

funny how we mock them. seriously are we better? if it wasn't from all the police and army that we deploy during hekmeh-riyadi matches, this would happen every single time in Lebanon. and it's always politically motivated.
people in our regions are uncivilized not becuz of their genetic predisposition it's because of dictators such as mubarak and assad who deliberately keep their people in a state of poverty and illiteracy to guarantee their stay in power. It takes time, but everything will be alright in Egypt and soon in Syria. w 3a 2belna.

Default-user-icon Abe (Guest) 02 February 2012, 10:41

come on guys such things happen everywhere, even in the west. let's not politicize everything and pray for the dead...

Missing ayoor 02 February 2012, 12:47

this is the language these guys understand, alah u akbar and go for the kill...

Missing ayoor 02 February 2012, 23:23

blame the balestinians

Missing linakhoury 03 February 2012, 02:01

Most of the dead died by trampling, probably from people coming from their own side as people were running towards each other in high speed, people fall and get stepped on repeatedly. Hooliganism is bad in itself but when mixed with politics as in this case then it shouldnt even be allowed. How can they allow teams to play against eachother when they know how heated it gets?