The news and videos were dramatic and went global: BBC, CBS, Aljazeera, CNN...
Al-Ahly from Cairo and their Ultra fans were visiting a small time club on the Mediterranean in Port Said and it was a shock result. The home team Al-Masry won 3-1. and a riot of the worst kind broke out as the referee blew for full time. Over 73 died, hundreds were injured and a bloody battle. Look at www.El-Ahly.com for the visiting club's web site and their own TV show and for the best coverage tune to www.aljazeera.com the English language Middle East 24 hour news channel. Fans had run on to the pitch at half-time and been chased off. PERHAPS THE MATCH SHOULD HAVE BEEN ABANDONED AT THAT TIME !!
"The biggest disaster in Egypt's soccer history" according to Hesham Sheiha, Egypt's deputy health minister. Last night the Al-Masty coach resigned in protest at the actions of his club's FANS and the local police chief was fired.The Egyptian FA cancelled the league programme for the near future. CAF the African Confederation is also located in Cairo, but many of their people are attending the African Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, which have reached the quarter-final stages. www.cafonline.com
In June 2010 on the way to the FIFA World Cup in South Africa I had attended the Egyptian Cup Final at the National Stadium in Nasr City. www.ronsblog.com 6/6/2010: AL-AHLY, KING TUT,AND MY CAMEL. Al-Ahly (which means THE NATION) are a big club and declared the 'African club of the 20th Century. They were playing Harasad Hadood from Alexandria up north. They play in red and their city rivals Zamalek play in green. I went through 4 check points to get to the main gate of the National Stadium, flashing my smile and press pass. 5 minutes before kick-off a chauffeur driven limo arrived at the gates and out stepped and immaculatlely dressed man with a body guard. I introduced myself and explained my desire to get in. He was gracious and said " Welcome to beautiful Egypt." whisked me through the gate to the VIP stands with plush armchair seats.
I asked if he was a movie star or politician. He said he was an army officer. I asked what he did in the army, and he indicated that he sort of ran the army!!!
Inside were packed masses and all the aisles were filled with an overflow crowd. Al-Ahly equalised late in the final(refereed by a neutral team of German officials), but they lost in penalty kicks and the visitors from Alexandria won. This was the stadium that you saw in flames on TV and on the internet last night. After news of the riots in Port Said the referee in the Cairo National Stadium had been told to abandon the league match at the National Stadium, between Zamalek and Al-Ismailiya and that caused the minor riots and fire, which was quickly dealt with.
In November 2009 Algeria's team bus was attacked on the road from Cairo Airport to The National Stadium not far away, for a second leg World Cup play-off. They only had to tie or lose by only one goal to reach the FIFA World Cup Finals. Egypt led by just one goal until 5 minutes into stoppage time when they scored a second. 2-0 and a play off was needed, in neutral Khartoum, Sudan the following Wednesday. Algeria triumphed and Egypt was out.
Read www.ronsblog.com 10/25.2006: DEATH IN THE AFTERNOON about the history of stadium fires, tragedies and deaths.
I have been to matches all over Africa, from Morocco, to Botswana, to Egypt, and all over South Africa, and overcowding(apart form the FIFA World Cup 2010) is the norm.