Soccer riot: Egyptians demand justice
Cairo – Angry Egyptian soccer fans protested at the general prosecutor’s office on Wednesday in Cairo, demanding that authorities bring to court those responsible for soccer violence that left 74 people dead.
Fans and activists said they would take matters into their own hands unless justice was done, putting more pressure on ruling generals already facing public criticism for mismanaging the transition to democracy in the wake of the uprising that began a year ago.
“With our souls and blood, we will protect you martyrs,” chanted a crowd of several thousand. “Down, down military rule.”
Violence broke out on Februar 02 at the end of a match between the al-Masry team in the coastal city of Port Said and Cairo’s visiting Al Ahly team, the most successful in Africa.
Witnesses said hundreds of al-Masry supporters surged across the pitch to the visitors’ end, causing panicking Ahly fans to dash for the exit. Steel doors were bolted shut and dozens were crushed to death in the stampede.
Many of the victims were Al-Ahly’s hardcore “ultra” fans, who regularly confront riot police at matches and have been at the front lines of protests that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak from power on February 11 last year.
Some critics of army rule suggested the violence was planned to create chaos and push people to support an extension of army rule.
A parliamentary inquiry found fans and lax security to blame, saying that instigators had used thugs and hardcore soccer fans to take “advantage of the tension surrounding the game to achieve some political gains”.
“The report is still a preliminary one. Popular determination will force the final report to be very precise,” said MP and member of the inquiry team Mohamed Abu Hamed.
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- Egypt Soccer Violence: The Military’s Political Game (indepthafrica.com)