rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » Sports » TRAGIC! 22 people killed outside Cairo soccer stadium

TRAGIC! 22 people killed outside Cairo soccer stadium

February 09, 2015 10:20 IST

‘I'd told him: leave soccer matches’

A soccer fan

A soccer fan is seen near a police car, which was set on fire by fireworks, during clashes between soccer fans and security forces in front of a stadium on the outskirts of Cairo. Photograph: Al Youm Al Saabi/Reuters

Twenty-two people were killed outside an Egyptian soccer stadium on Sunday when security forces barred fans from entering, the public prosecutor's office said.

Most of the dead were suffocated when the crowd stampeded after police used tear gas to clear the fans trying to force their way into a league match between two Cairo clubs, Zamalek and Enppi, doctors and witnesses said.

A health ministry spokesman said that the final toll was 19 dead and 20 injured. The reason for the discrepancy in numbers between the health ministry and the public prosecutor's office was not immediately clear.

Policemen and soccer fans argue during a scuffle as fans attempt to enter a   stadium to watch a match

Policemen and soccer fans argue during a scuffle as fans attempt to enter a stadium to watch a match. Photograph: Al Youm Al Saabi/Reuters

Soccer matches are often a flashpoint for violence in Egypt where 72 fans were killed at a match in Port Said in February 2012. Since then Egypt has curbed the number of people allowed to attend, and supporters have often tried to storm stadiums they are banned from entering.

Outside the Cairo hospital treating the injured, scores of youths wearing Zamalek T-shirts appeared shocked as families arrived to see if their relatives were safe.

One mother cried and shouted when she found the name of her son on a list of the dead posted by hospital staff.

"I'd told him: leave soccer matches," she said.

Policemen and soccer fans are seen through barbed wire as fans attempt to enter a stadium

Policemen and soccer fans are seen through barbed wire as fans attempt to enter a stadium. Photograph: Al Youm Al Saabi/Reuters

Relations between security forces and fan groups known as Ultras have been tense since the 2011 popular uprising that ended the rule of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, in which the Ultras played a key role.

"Huge numbers of Zamalek club fans came to Air Defense Stadium to attend the match ... and tried to storm the stadium gates by force, which prompted the troops to prevent them from continuing the assault," the interior ministry said.

The public prosecution ordered the arrest of the leaders of the Zamalek supporters group, Ultras White Knights, after Sunday's incident, official media reported.

Soccer fans argue with security personnel

Soccer fans argue with security personnel. Photograph: Reuters

On their Facebook page, the Ultras White Knights described the 22 dead as ‘martyrs’ and accused security forces of a ‘massacre’.

Despite the violence, the match went ahead and ended with a 1-1 draw.

The Egyptian Football Federation said it had reversed an earlier decision to allow fans to return to the stadiums by the start of the second half of the season. The original decision had been taken only a few days ago.

Shortly after that, the Cabinet said in a statement that the national league championship would be postponed indefinitely.

Source:
© Copyright 2018 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.