At least 74 people have been killed and hundreds injured in a riot after a football match between two of Egypt’s top teams - Port Said’s al-Masry and Cairo’s al-Ahly (flag pictured above). Al-Masry won the game, and at the final whistle their fans invaded the pitch and attacked rival players and supporters, while part of the stadium was set on fire.
Although some rioters were said to have been armed with knives and metal bars, most injuries appear to have been caused by a stampede of spectators desperate to escape from the ground.
Some observers are claiming that the normal police presence for a match of this kind had been scaled down, and there are theories that there may have been some kind of concerted attack on al-Ahly fans, who are seen as having been in the forefront of recent protests against the security forces.
The world’s worst football disaster came in Lima in 1964, when a goal was disallowed in the last minute of an Olympic qualifying match between Peru and Argentina. More than 300 people died as a riot in the stadium spread into the centre of the city. There too, many of those killed were crushed trying to escape the trouble.
(See also my blogs of February 6 and March 30, 2009, January 2, 2010.)