Football fans protest death of 74 in Port Said
Thu, 16 Feb 2012 9:48a.m.
Thousands of Egypt's hardcore al-Ahli soccer club fans - known as Ultras - marched through the streets of Cairo protesting the deaths of 74 people at a stadium in Port Said two weeks ago on Feb. 1.
In a feverish but peaceful atmosphere, the demonstrators swarmed the streets backed by their arch-rivals, Zamalek's White Knights, chanting songs and slogans that accused the interior ministry of plotting for the so-called "Port Said Massacre".
The incident at the stadium in Port Said was Egypt's worst ever soccer disaster.
Incensed demonstrators marched from outside al-Ahli headquarters to the office of the General Prosecutor, where they lit firecrackers and unfurled banners reads: "Either we get back their rights or die like them" in a bid to push the prosecution to speed up the investigations.
"We will not resume the soccer competition and we will not support our clubs until we retrieve the violated rights of the martyrs, this is our demand," said one soccer fan at the protest, Abdullah Mahmoud.
"We - as fans of al-Ahli or Zamalek - will not remain quiet until we know who the criminals are and only then will we think about the resumption of the competition," Abdullah added.
Demonstrators also called for the head of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Force (SCAF), Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, to be executed.
"We are obliged to bring back the rights of those people who were killed. We are all one body; Ahli or Zamalek we are all Egyptians," said another demonstrator, Ayman Mohamed said.
At least 1,000 people were injured in the violence when soccer fans invaded the pitch after local team al-Masry beat Cairo-based Al Ahli, the most successful club in Africa.
Hundreds of al-Masry supporters surged across the pitch to the visitors' end and panicked Ahli fans dashed for the exit. But the steel doors were bolted shut and dozens were crushed to death in the stampede, witnesses said.
The fact-finding committee which was appointed by the parliament recently reported that the Egyptian Football Association (EFA), the head of the Port Said stadium security office and the Interior Ministry were all responsible for failing to prevent the deadly accident, but did not identify any specific individuals.
Egypt's football federation has indefinitely postponed matches in the premier league. Al Ahli club suspended all sports activities and declared three days of mourning following the accident.
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