Friday, February 1, 2013

This Day in History: February 1, 2012- The Port Said Stadium Clashes

The Port Said Stadium clashes occurred on February 1, 2012, following a football match between Al-Masry Club and Al-Ahly S.C. at Port Said Stadium in Port Said, Egypt. At least 77 people were killed after thousands of supporters stormed the field following a 3–1 victory by Al-Masry. The New York Times reported that a prime factor in the lethal riots was the involvement of Al-Ahly ultras. The ultras are said to be profane, boisterous and prone to unpredictable behavior, often attacking police. The group was also involved in clashes in Tahrir Square during the Egyptian revolution protests. Additionally, over a thousand injuries were reported, some from the panic in the crowd as fans tried to escape. According to the BBC, the deputy health minister claimed that "it is the biggest disaster in the country's football history." Video footage appears to show that the police appeared unable or unwilling to contain groups attacking each other with knives and weaponry. Eyewitnesses to the clashes claimed that police "did nothing to stop it", and "refused to open the gates" to allow the crowds to escape.

Al-Ahly coach Manuel José was kicked and punched by fans after not being able to return to the locker room. He was afterwards taken to a police station. Both José and Mohamed Aboutrika reported that fans died in the Al-Ahly locker room. Aboutrika decided to retire from football, whilst José is considering leaving Egypt.