At least 73 people were killed and 1,000 injured in a riot at a soccer match in the Egyptian city of Port Said on Wednesday, the worst disaster in the country’s soccer history, government officials said.
The game was between Al Ahli, one of Egypt’s most successful clubs, and Al Masry, a team based in Port Said. Live television footage showed fans running onto the field and chasing Ahli soccer players.
Ahli player Mohamed Abo Treika described the violence as war as Masry fans invaded the pitch after the referee blew the whistle, even though the team had beaten Ahli 3-1.
“This is not football. This is a war and people are dying in front of us. There is no movement and no security and no ambulances,” Abo Treika told the Ahli television channel. “I call for the premier league to be cancelled. This is horrible situation and today can never be forgotten.”
Doctors in four hospitals confirmed that the death toll had reached 73. Some of the deaths were the result of stab wounds, the doctors said.
State television quoted Hesham Sheiha, deputy health minister, as saying that most of the injuries were caused by concussion and deep cuts.
Another match in Cairo was halted by the referee after receiving news of the violence in Port Said, prompting fans to set parts of the stadium on fire, television footage showed.
Emergency services managed to control the blaze, a security official said.
Earlier on Wednesday, gunmen raided a money transfer company in Cairo, state news agency reported, bringing to five the number of armed robberies in less than a week in a country previously unaccustomed to such incidents.
In the capital, with its population of 20 million, crimes such as car theft have also become more widespread over the past 12 months.