At least 1,000 people were injured in the melee - which followed an Egyptian league match between Al-Masry, the home team in the Mediterranean city of Port Said, and Al-Ahly, based in Cairo and one of Egypt’s most popular teams. It was the worst case of soccer violence not only in Egypt but Africa at large and the deadliest worldwide since 1996. Several Al- Ahly players were injured and one of them said it was “like a war.”
Further reports emerged that in Cairo, fans were angered with a cancelation of match between Al-Ismaili and Zamalek because of the Port Said violence. Part of the Cairo International Stadium in the Egyptian capital was set on fire by Zamalek fans, authorities said. No injuries were reported, and employees said firefighters extinguished the blaze before it caused much damage.
There have been other recent violent incidents at soccer games in Egypt. In April last year, the ineffectiveness of the police force was on display when thousands of fans ran onto the field before the end of an African Champions League game between local club Zamalek and Tunisia’s Club Africain.
The hundreds of police on duty at Cairo International Stadium could not stop the violence then, either. The latest clashes in Egypt raises eyelid on what will be the safety of the Mainland Tanzania giants Young Africans SC (Yanga), when they travel to Cairo to face Zamalek in CAF Champions League return leg preliminary encounter early next month.
Surely the Tanzanian club and travelling fans will need maximum protection. History has it that the Tanzanian clubs have regularly encountered minor aggression away against Egyptian fans and the situation is now threatening to go from bad to worse. Apparently, given the nature of Egyptians fans and what has just transpired, it would be advisable for Yanga officials through the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) to write to the Confederation of African Football (CAF), and request the match to be played in a third nation.
Otherwise, at this moment, the sports fraternity in Tanzania and definitely across the world is sharing the grief with the people of Egypt for the tragic loss. By any standard such a catastrophic situation is unimaginable and should not happen. Besides this being a sad event, it should be a message across Africa that the continent needs adequate security to protect their people from such incidents that are preventable. Governments all over the world should also take appropriate action to ensure allround safety at multi-capacity sports stadiums.