(WFI) More than 30 Egyptian fans were killed in football violence at a Cairo stadium on Sunday.
Police reportedly fired teargas and birdshot at fans of Zamalek SC queueing to enter Air Defence stadium, triggering a stampede in which people were crushed to death.
According to local media reports, they were a group of hardcore Zamalek fans known as the White Knights.
Government officials said police fired on ticketless supporters of Egypt’s second biggest club for attempting to force their way into the ground to watch a league match against city rivals ENPPI.
Another two dozen or more fans were also injured in the clashes with police.
The authorities were blamed for opening only one gate at the stadium. The Interior Ministry was allowing only 10,000 fans into the stadium.
Despite the violence, the game went ahead.
“We were inside the stadium when the clashes began outside. There was a police car on fire and they were shooting birdshot and tear gas,” a witness told AFP.
The government has launched an investigation and taken the decision to indefinitely postpone the Egyptian Premier League in the wake of the deaths. “Because of these sad events it has been decided to postpone the league to a time that will be decided later,” said a government statement, according to Reuters.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has sent a letter of condolence to Mohamed
Gamal, the president of the Egyptian Football Association.
would like to express my deepest condolences to the Egyptian football
community for the tragic events that occurred at last night’s match in
Cairo between Zamalek and ENPPI,” Blatter said in the letter.
thoughts and sympathies are with the families of all those who have
lost their lives yesterday evening. It is so sad that a game of
football, which should be the scene of joy and positive emotions, should
be overshadowed in this way.
“We await the results of the
investigation into this tragedy and are ready to provide the Egyptian
Football Association with any support they may need in dealing with the
aftermath of this event,” he added.
The Cairo rioting is the latest tragedy to hit Egyptian football. Post-match rioting after a game between Cairo’s Al-Ahly and Al-Masry in Port Said led to the death of more than 74 fans in 2012.
Hardcore football fans in Egypt known as Ultras have a history of clashes with the police. They are said to be very politicized, with many taking part in the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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