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miércoles, 1 de febrero de 2012

73 fans dead, tens of hundreds injured in Egyptian football horror in Port Said

Egyptian authorities have said 73 football fans died with at least 1,000 injured after crowd rioting at the end of an Egyptian premier league game in Port Said between Al Masry and champions Al Ahly.
Thousands of fans were reported to have swarmed across the pitch moment after the final whistle of a game won 3-1 by Al Masry. Security police were among the dead.
“There are 11 deaths at my hospital. Two other hospitals have 25 deaths. Three fans have also died in the stadium,” Medhat El-Esnawy, the manager of Port Said’s El-Amiry hospital, said in a television interview. “Some died in the stampede and others died of suffocation.”
Samir Zaher, president of the Egyptian Football Association, announced that the league had been postponed indefinitely. The resumption of matches had been controversial in any case considering the febrile situation in the country amid rising popular impatience at the slow nature of political change after the overthrow of President Mubarak last spring.
Sports and police authorities had been concerned about trouble even before the game in Port Said after crowd trouble marred their meeting in the coastal city last season. Adding to the tension had been the recent appointment as coach by Al Masry of Hossam Hassan who had been involved in a touchline clash with Al-Ahly coach Manuel Jose last season when he was in charge of Zamalek.
Both Hossam Hassan and Al Ahly director Sayed Abdel-Hafiz had appealed for calm before the game.
Ahly, who are chasing an eighth consecutive league triumph, started the game second in the table with 36 points, one behind surprise leaders Harras El-Hodoud. They held a four-point lead over Cairo rivals Zamalek, who have not won the league since 2004. The two clubs had been due to meet this coming weekend.
Ahly’s players flooded the club’s in-house television channel with phone calls to speak about the post-match horror and call on authorities to intervene and protect them.
“The security forces left us, they did not protect us. One fan has just died in the dressing room in front of me,” veteran playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika screamed in a phone call with the club’s channel.
“People have died, we are seeing corpses now. There are no security forces or army personnel to protect us,” attacking midfielder Mohamed Barakat added. “It is our fault because we played that match. The authorities are afraid to cancel the league because they just care about money, they do not care about the lives of people.”
Masry fans stormed the pitch immediately after the final whistle, chasing Ahly players and technical staff members, who “ran for their lives,” according to a report from Al-Ahram.
They subsequently clashed with Ahly’s visiting supporters as the melee escalated.


Later in the day, Zamalek’s league game against Ismaily in Cairo was called off following the end of the first half upon the request of both teams after the outer part of one of Cairo stadium’s four stands caught fire after an electrical short circuit.
Zamalek coach Hassan Shehata said: “We are in a catastrophe. We had to show solidarity with the fans of Ahly and Masry.”
Alexandria-based clubs Ittihad and Smouha announced their withdrawal from the league competition.

*Source: AIPS

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