Port Said Soccer Riot Leaves 79 Dead

February 1, 2012 . By

A stadium riot between rival fans of Cairo’s Al-Ahly soccer club and Port Said’s Al-Masry club left 79 dead today in Port Said. The violence took off when the final whistle of the game was blown and despite having won 3-to-1, Al-Masry fans charged the pitch and opposing stands, attacking rival fans. Eyewitness statements from attendees recounted that “the police did nothing to stop [the attack].” An Al-Ahly fan observed that “officers refused to open the gates of the stadium, so we [Al-Ahly fans] could not escape and had to face thousands of Al-Masry hooligans attacking [us] with rocks, knives, swords and anything else you can imagine.” Players were not spared from the attack, as “bottles and rocks” were flung at them during the game by Port Said fans.

Following the attack, thousands of Al-Ahly fans and families of victims gathered at the main train station in Cairo for an anti-military protest. Some believe the attack was planned or facilitated by the state, as one demonstrator noted that the attack took place “a day after the Minister of [the] Interior failed to convince Parliament that the emergency law must be reinstated in order to maintain stability in Egypt.” Additionally, some members of the new Parliament “accused the military-led government of deliberately allowing the violence to escalate to justify its expansive police powers and undermine the revolution.” Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi stated on Al-Ahly’s satellite channel that “the military would apprehend those responsible and [the] victims would be compensated.”