Late Wednesday, people in Port Said, Egypt were expecting to enjoy a simple soccer game between al-Masry and Al Ahli. The game’s result angered supporters and in a blink of an eye, all hell broke loose and the army had to step in to stop one of the biggest Egypt soccer riot ever.
Wednesday’s night game was more of a death match between local team al-Masry supporters and those of Egypt’s most successful club, Al Ahli. Reuters writes that at least 1,000 people were injured in the riot as hundreds of soccer fans took down the arena in the city of Port Said.
Hooligans supporting local team al-Masry attacked the opposing players as well as supporters and at least 73 people were killed. Associated Press writes that witnesses reported Al Ahli’s fans died stabbed to death and many suffocated. They were trapped in a long narrow corridor after al-Masry hooligans started following them armed with knives, clubs and stones.
Activists say the number of victims would have been smaller, if the police and military would have stepped in swiftly to put an end to the riot. Images during the clash show that black clothed officers made their appearance on the field, but without taking immediate action.
According to the Interior Ministry, 74 people died, including one police officer, while other 248 people were injured. Half of them were police. As Associated Press points out, initially, a health official said that the number of injured was a staggering 1,000. Only 47 people were arrested after the soccer game.
Apparently, the riot was generated by the results of the game. It seems that local team al-Masry managed to steal the win from Al Ahli. But, as intense as the rivalry between the supporters of the two teams might be, politicians say that the riot was generated by “an invisible hand” and blame Hosni Mubarak’s supporters for it.
Essam el Erian, a senior lawmaker from the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, said “the reason for this tragedy is the deliberate neglect and absence of the military and the police”.
Mahmoud el-Naggar, told a Reuters reporter, that to blame for the riot “are Mubarak’s men. They are applying his strategy when he said choose me or choose chaos”.