At least 40 killed before football match in Cairo
At least 40 people have been killed during clashes between police and fans before a football match in the Egyptian capital Cairo.
Initial reports confirmed by the Egyptian health officials put the death toll at 14 while more than a dozen were also injured after riots broke out before the match between Zamalek and Enppi on Sunday.
A Facebook page run by Zamalek fans under the title of Ultras White Knights put the death toll at 28. The photos of bodies of the victims wearing the team’s jersey were shared on the page.
The page also released pictures showing a list of the names of the “martyrs”.
According to some reports, the number of the injured stood at 20 as police used tear gas to disperse rioting fans outside the Air Defense Stadium in northeast Cairo.
Fans without tickets
The interior ministry later issued a statement blaming Zamalek fans for the deadly clashes, saying that they were trying to attend the local league match without buying tickets.
“Huge numbers of Zamalek club fans came to Air Defense Stadium to attend the match … and tried to storm the stadium gates by force, which prompted the troops to prevent them from continuing the assault on the stadium facilities,” the statement said without giving more details.
The fan page on Facebook rejected the ministry’s statement, saying people were tear-gassed as they scrambled to get in through a tiny metal fence surrounded by barbed wire.
Egypt football association issued a statement blaming the Muslim Brotherhood and the April 6 Youth Movement for the stampede, according to Al Jazeera.
Meanwhile, the website of the Egyptian daily al-Ahram reported that the match went ahead on Sunday despite the death of the fans with the two teams finishing the game in a 1-1 draw. The score keeps Zamalek at the top of the league table with 45 points, three clear of second-placed Enppi.
More than 70 football fans were killed in February 2012 in similar clashes between supporters of two other clubs in Cairo. The mayhem prompted Egyptian government to hold football games before limited crowds from then on.
Following the incident, Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab ordered a suspension of the Egypt’s Premier League. The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) also decided to revise its decision for allowing back the fans into the stadiums.
Zamalek supporters, who are known as Ultras, keep challenging Egypt’s military-backed government.