This is awful, people! Just awful!
Thanks to reckless soccer hooligans in Egypt last night, at least 73 people are dead (1,000 injured) after a riot broke out at a game between two rival teams.
Ahly, a powerhouse club from Cairo, was visiting the town of Port Said and suffered a rare loss and was immediately swarmed by hometown fans. The team and fans ran for cover in the locker rooms, but unfortunately the bloodshed couldn't be escaped. Ahly coach Ahmed Nagui painted a gruesome picture of the riot when he said the locker room "looks like a morgue."
Egyptian officials believe there is more than just sports rivalry responsible for the violence. The Muslim Brotherhood, who controls the majority of the country's parliament, is blaming thugs connected to toppled President Hosni Mubarak, as one official said:
"The events in Port Said are planned and are a message from the remnants of the former regime."
Worst of all, it sounds like there was very minimal security for this high tension match. Whatever security presence there was took off when the violence erupted, as one Ahly player told a TV news station over the phone during the incident:
"The security forces left us, they did not protect us. One fan has just died in the dressing room in front of me. To hell with football if the situation is like this…. Are people's lives that cheap?"
So sad! Clearly, "good sportsmanship" isn't very popular in Egypt and the country's political tensions are spilling over into arenas they shouldn't be.
Now officials are fearing a retaliation from Ahly's die-hard fans known as Ultras. They fought against Mubarak loyalists last February in the Tahrir Square riots and don't hesitate to toss Molotov cocktails at police, so this situation may get a lot worse before it gets better.
We're so sorry to hear about this terrifying violence and send our prayers to the families of the victims.
[Image via AP Images.]