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article imageEgypt funerals taking place after 74 die at soccer match

By Kev Hedges     Feb 2, 2012 in World
Port Said - The ruling military council in Egypt has announced three days of mourning in the wake of a deadly soccer riot in Port Said, that left 74 dead and hundreds injured.
The match, between Egypt's top two clubs al-Masry and al-Ahly are often feisty and violent, such is the rivalry between the two fans. But the level of deadly violence has surprised and shocked this beleaguered nation, in particular the role of the police at the ground.
Emergency meetings of the cabinet and parliament have been called and Cairo's Tahrir Square, so often a focal point of protest recently, was closed off by angry crowds demanding to know why the police simply stood by while hundreds of fans streamed onto the pitch after the final whistle using fists, fireworks, stones, metal bars, and knives to attack players and fans alike. Many died in a crush to get out of the ground.
The main railway station in Cairo saw hundreds of people gather to receive the dead and treat the injured. Their anger was directed at the ruling military. Egyptians are now wondering if more sinister forces were to blame for the riot. The Muslim Brotherhood are the party with the most seats in parliament, they have accused the dying embers of the Mubarak regime for inciting and provoking the deadly clashes.
All Egyptian football matches in its Premier League have been postponed indefinitely, reports BBC News. Fans in Egypt can be notoriously violent but al-Ahly supporters, known as Ultras, have become a political force recently. This had led to much suspicion and anger with accusations of incompetence levelled towards the police force.
Egypt is slowly moving towards presidential elections and the handover to civilian rule but instability and violence appears to be rife while military rulers attempt to maintain order within an increasingly mistrusting society.
The violence in Port Said is the latest in a string of deadly disasters to affect African sport. In Zimbabwe, 13 people died at a soccer match against South Africa following unrest in July 2000. A year later, 43 people were crushed to death in South Africa at a football match between the Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates. However the worst disaster was in Ghana in May 2001, when unrest at a match between Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko at the Accra Sports Stadium resulted in 127 people being killed in a stampede.
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