At least 74 people have been killed and hundreds more injured following violence at a football match in one of Egypt’s largest cities, Port Said. The violence flared yesterday after local side Al-Masry beat Cairo’s Al-Ahly 3-1.
Television footage showed players from Al-Ahly, Africa’s most successful club, being chased from the pitch by fans. A small number of riot police were in attendance but appeared to be overwhelmed by the numbers involved.
Reuters reported that the post-match pitch invasion by home fans provoked violent clashes with the away support. This in turn led to crowd surges and panic as people were crushed to death. Others are reported to have fallen or been thrown from the stands.
Al-Ahly player Mohamed Aboutrika told his club’s television channel: “This is not football. This is a war and people are dying in front of us. There is no movement and no security and no ambulances. I call for the league to be cancelled. This is a horrible situation, and today can never be forgotten.”
Egypt’s ruling military elite has already been criticised by politicians and fans for not doing enough to stop the violence. Crossover between fans’ ultras groups and political activism is common and Egypt Independent reports that ultras were involved in last year's revolt against Hosni Mubarak’s presidency.
Egypt’s Parliament will hold an emergency debate on the violence and the country’s domestic league has been suspended. Hundreds of protestors also gathered outside the state’s television centre while supporters from Cairo’s rival sides came together to mourn the dead in a show of solidarity.
The army has announced three days of national mourning beginning today and promised a full investigation into the incident.
Update - Egypt's FA has now been officially dissolved and the Port Said governor has resigned. With all sorts of conspiracy theories developing Britain's foreign office minister, Alistair Burt, has called for a full and transparent investigation.
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