As its stand 73 people have been killed in Egypt. Over 1000 are injured so that figure is expected to rise. Reports say it could rise to 156 people. The majority were caused by a mass invasion after the country’s top team, Al Ahly lost away to Al Masry at Port Said. However rocks, fireworks, flares and bottles being thrown attributed to the total. The two teams have a history of rivalry and it’s not the first time clashes have happened inside the ground so riot police presence was at the game. The winning team’s fans celebrated as the whistle blew but violence erupted seconds later. The players ran for safety and found cover in the dressing rooms but many fans were not as lucky as police refused to get involved until the army turned up almost an hour after.
Why, when people were crying for help, did they have to go that long without any protection? Lives could have been saved! The riots last year and the negative press could have been the reason they were scared to react. Similarly as in England in their riots after the well documented death of Ian Tomlinson. The Egyptian FA have cancelled all games ‘indefinitely’ and a game 125 miles away turned ugly as the stadium was pictured on fire.
Are these normal acts of football hooliganism in the Middle East? It wasn’t long ago since terrible scenes in Istanbul. Or is this a reoccurrence or repercussion of the events we saw last year when violence took to the streets across the Middle East? In Britain, it’s well known in different generations the problems and events that hooliganism brought to the game, whether through witnessing it live, hearing it in the papers or news, or even through the poor film Football Factory and the even worse screening of Green Street (did you know there was a Green Street 2?... Why?!).
This isn’t the type of hooliganism that we witnessed. This is a disaster. This leads me to ask to a few questions. Is this an extreme case of traditional football hooliganism in the Middle Eastern world? Is this a select group of thuggish Egyptian fans believing that they can do what they want? Or as it has been suggested, did the ex-president Hosni Mubarak arrange for this to happen? In my opinion, why this was caused is unknown and will probably stay that way. What I hope will happen; other than the culprits are found and punished, is for some good to come from an event as shocking as this. As ‘big brother’ as I sound, I believe football should be reformed.
It has worked well in England (although probably too over the top, no beer on European nights!) and it is one of the reasons why the Premier League is so admired internationally. Regardless of this, I would like to take the time to give condolences to the people ones affected from this disaster.