Cairo wakes up to another tragedy as scores were killed during deadly clashes and a stampede at the Air Defense Stadium.
Once again tragedy befell Cairo when at least 22 football fans were killed and 20 were injured on Sunday evening when police attempted to disperse the large crowds trying to attend last night's football match between Zamalek and ENPPI.
The internet was flooded with a slew of horrific photos of the deadly aftermath that took place after police attempted to disperse a large crowd with tear gas. "They died of suffocation and stampede after being tear-gassed," a medical source at the Ahli Bank Hospital, which received 14 bodies, told Ahram Online. As always confirming the number of dead remains shroud in speculation. The Ministry of Health Hossam Abdel Ghaffar told Ahram Online that 19 Zamalek's fans were killed and 20 injured on Sunday. Various report online cite medical officials claiming that at least 22 were killed with some reports claiming it could be over 30.
As always Egyptians are left to figure out what exactly happened as both fans and security forces blame each other over the death toll. According to eye witnesses, fans could only get into the stadium through one small gate covered with barbed wire and once the numbers of people trying to get in swelled, the security forces attempted to disperse the crowd with tear gas that resulted in a deadly stampede. Security forces on site claim that the problem was that too many people showed up without a ticket expecting to push their way through. Only 10,000 supporters were allowed to attend the match against ENPPI, with 5,000 tickets up for public sale and as many distributed by the club itself.
Despite the chaos and mayhem taking place outside the stadium, somehow it was decided that the game must go on adding insult to tragedy. Refusing to play was none other than Zamalek’s Omar Gaber, a fan favourite among Ultras. Zamalek board member Ahmed Mansour,said that the management will punish the player for his action and he is expected to be suspended for an undisclosed period. While his father outspoken chairman Mortada Mansour, said on his Facebook page: "You do not understand anything. You are not allowed to get in by force. No one will be allowed to attend the match without tickets.”
Shortly after the game ended, the league decided to postpone play indefinitely, putting the season in question.
Sadly, this is a case of history repeating as just three years ago the Port Said massacre claimed the lives of 74 people in similar circumstances. The season was cancelled, and when it resumed fans were banned from attending. 21 Masry fans were sentenced to death for the part in the violence, but once again not a single police officer was held responsible for failing to maintain security.
The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) repeatedly said new measures and procedures will be put in place in ensure fan safety but that did not materialise amid continued confrontations between hardcore fan groups. Nevertheless the ban on crowds attending matches was just lifted this year, and was sadly short lived.
An arrest warrant has been issued for the leaders of the Zamalek supporters group, the White Knights, the ultra hardcore fan base that are usually blamed for football violence. Immediately after the stampede many of their supporters who were there began posting the names of victims that could be identified as well as pictures and videos of the carnage.