Egypt upholds death sentences over Port Said football catastrophe

Egypt upholds death sentences over Port Said football catastrophe
2 min read
21 February, 2017
An Egyptian court upheld death sentences against 10 people convicted over rioting that claimed 74 lives at a stadium in Port Said in 2012.
Egyptian family members of victims of the Port Said massacre react outside the court [Getty]
An Egyptian court upheld death sentences on Monday levelled at 10 men for their role in the 2012 Port Said stadium riot in which over 74 football fans were killed.

The Port Said incident marked Egypt’s worst ever incident of violence at a football stadium and occurred following a match between the Port Said based team Al-Masry and Cairo’s Al-Ahly.

Clashes broke out at the fixture after Al-Ahly fans allegedly displayed banners insulting the local team, prompting attacks by Al-Masry fans armed with knives, clubs and rocks.

Many of those killed were crushed following a stampede as fans tried to escape the ensuing violence. Others, according to eye-witnesses, were thrown or fell from the terraces of the Port Said stadium.

The majority of those killed were Al-Ahly fans.

Police forces at the stadium have been accused of failing to act to stop the violence by many Egyptians, including members of the country’s parliament at the time.

Egypt has a history of violence breaking out at football matches between rival clubs.

Following the riot Egypt’s top football league was suspended for over a year.

It has since resumed and consequently state authorities have attempted to limit the number of fans in stadiums at matches, with supporters on occasion trying to storm stadiums they are banned from attending.

In February 2015 at least 22 Zamalek SC fans were killed in a after police fired tear gas and shotgun pellets into the midst of a thousand strong group of fans confined in a narrow passageway outside a Cairo stadium.

Following that incident in May 2015 a Cairo court issued a ban against a countrywide network of football fans known as the Ultras White Knights prohibiting them from attending matches, congregating outside stadiums, and accusing them of complicity in acts of violence and riots.

The move was seen as having a political dimension, with Ultras fans playing a notable role in 2011 street protests that lead to the toppling of long-time President Hosni Mubarak.

Tensions between football fans and state security forces remain ongoing with over 80 Al-Ahly fans detained earlier this month on suspicion of planning a protest on the anniversary of the Port Said riot. 

Agencies contributed to this report