Port Said,Egypt. The Arab revolution continues to amaze me.
At least 74 people were killed after fans rushed the field following an upset victory by the home team over Egypt’s top soccer team. Riot police at the Port Said stadium failed to intervene. This is a reminder of the deteriorating situation in the Arab world’s most populous nation. This nation was ruled by Hosni Mubarak for many years. He was swept out of power in 2011 after a popular uprising following the one that started the Arab Spring in Tunisia. The melee between the fans of Al-Masry, the upset victor and Al-Ahly, the losing favorite based in Cairo was the worst case of soccer violence in Egypt since 1966.
Meanwhile in Cairo, fans angered because a match between Al-Ismaili and Zamalek was halted, set fire to the bleachers. No injuries were reported in this stadium. The clashes and ensuing stampede does not appear to be directly linked to the political turmoil in Egypt.
The inability or lack of managing crowds by the state police is troubling.
Hundreds of black-uniformed police armed with helmets and shields stood in lines watching the fans beat each other to a pulp. The fanatics chased each other around wielding sharp objects, rocks and sticks.
Security officials were under orders to not intervene and engage the uncivil civilians after recent clashes between them resulted in 40 people dead in November 2011.
Egypt’s soccer fans have played a major role in the revolution. Their anti-police songs, peppered with curses, have quickly gone viral. Their hatred toward the security forces is evident and growing. Many Egyptians accused them of much of the abuse under Mubarak’s regime.
Another incident of soccer madness was on display when thousands of fans ran onto the pitch before the end of an African Champions game in Cairo.
This lawlessness is troubling. So far 74 people were confirmed killed in action, during a soccer match.
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