Egypt suspends football league indefinitely after soccer match riot

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Egypt has indefinitely suspended the football league after clashes in which at least 40 people have died. The earlier toll was put at 22.

A medical source told Egypt’s Ahram Online that he had seen more than 30 dead bodies after the riot.

Clashes erupted between supporters of Egypt’s Zamalek football club and police personnel in Cairo before the start of the game. The football match proceeded despite the violence.

Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd. Many of the victims are thought to have died due to suffocation and stampede.

The Egyptian government said in a statement: “Some of the crowd, who did not have tickets, attempted to break into the stadium after the gate was closed. They also refused to be searched by the security forces before attacking them and damaging public and private property.”

“The cabinet regrets the incident and expresses its condolences to the families of the victims.”

The supporters of Zamalek, known as Ultras White Knights, blame the police for the deaths and said the riots erupted as only one of the gates was opened.

“A few people walked in slowly and then we had someone telling us they would let us in from the back door. So people thought it would be OK, but then they started using tear gas and because of the large numbers [of people], some started to run and to jump over the fence [to escape the overcrowding],” a fan was quoted as saying by Al Jazeera.

“This is when they were confronted by the security forces.”

Relations between football supporters and security personnel have remained tense in Egypt for long as they played a key role in ousting former dictator Hosni Mubarak in the 2011 uprising.

The interior ministry said: “Huge numbers of Zamalek club fans came to Air Defence 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.”

Arrest warrants have been issued against leaders of a group that supports Zamalek.

This is not the first time major clashes have taken place in a football-related incident. In 2012, 74 people were killed following riots that rocked Port Said.

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