1 killed, dozens injured in Egypt soccer clashes

Hundreds of soccer fans clash with security forces during protest against banning of club involved in melee in which 74 were killed.

By REUTERS
March 24, 2012 22:02
2 minute read.
Egyptian protesters carry coffin

Egyptian protesters carry coffin 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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CAIRO - One person was shot dead and at least 65 injured when security forces clashed with angry soccer fans in Egypt's Port Said protesting against an order to suspend their club over the country's worst stadium disaster, a medical source said.

The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) banned the club, al-Masry, for two seasons on Friday for a pitch invasion that killed 74 fans last month, the most deadly incident since the protests that toppled President Hosni Mubarak last year.

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The EFA ordered Port Said Stadium, where the stampede took place after al-Masry beat Cairo's Al Ahli, to be closed for three years.

Military police fired shots in the air to disperse hundreds of soccer fans protesting outside the Suez Canal Authority building in Port Said late on Friday, witnesses said.

"Hundreds of angry fans clashed with military police after the decision was announced," one witness said.

"One was shot dead, in the back, and 18 were injured in the clashes, two of them are suffering gunshot wounds," the medical source said.

Clashes erupted again on Saturday after the funeral of the person who was shot. Protesters smashed the front of police and army clubs in the city and marched towards the canal authority's building. Police fired teargas and shot into the air.



"I haven't seen a worse day than what Port Said is going through today," said Hany Abu Taleb, 28, a student in Port Said. "I demand the suspension of the decision (to ban the club) or its amendment ... We refuse to have the football league without Port Said."

Port Said harbor was closed on Saturday morning because of the protests and ships using the Suez Canal were directed to a secondary route east of the city, sources at the Suez Canal Authority and Port Said harbor said.

Shops were closed and many city residents stayed in their homes. Army and police stepped up security outside government buildings.

"Port Said was destroyed economically and we can't find a source of income," said city resident Ahmed Abu Seir, 23. "I can't earn a living since the disastrous game. How long are we going to continue like this?"

The EFA said in a statement that al-Masry would be suspended for the 2011/12 and 2012/13 seasons. The club would be reinstated to the Egyptian Premier League in the 2013/14 season, it added.

During the February pitch invasion, steel doors at the stadium were bolted shut, trapping fans trying to escape from the stands. Dozens were crushed to death.

Many fans blamed the government for failing to send enough police to the stadium given the tense build-up to the match, and many believe the violence was started by hired thugs. At least 1,000 people were injured.

Prosecutors referred 75 people, including nine security officials in Port Said, to the criminal court on March 15 to face trial over the violence.


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