Egypt soccer fans rush field after game; 73 dead

Team players of the Egyptian Al-Ahly club run for safety during clashes following their soccer match against Al-Masry club Wednesday at the soccer stadium in Port Said, Egypt. Dozens of Egyptians were killed Wednesday in violence following the soccer match, when fans flooded the field after the home team won an unexpected victory over Egypt’s top club.

Team players of the Egyptian Al-Ahly club run for safety during clashes following their soccer match against Al-Masry club Wednesday at the soccer stadium in Port Said, Egypt. Dozens of Egyptians were killed Wednesday in violence following the soccer match, when fans flooded the field after the home team won an unexpected victory over Egypt’s top club. Photo by The Associated Press.

CAIRO (AP) — Soccer fans rushed the field after the home team won an unexpected victory over Egypt’s top club Wednesday, setting off clashes and a stampede that left at least 73 people dead and 1,000 injured in a Mediterranean port city, officials said.

It was the worst incident of soccer violence in Egypt and the deadliest worldwide since 1996. One player said it was “like a war.”

The melee broke out after fans of Al-Masry, the home team in Port Said, stormed the field after a rare 3-1 win against Al-Ahly, Egypt’s top team. Al-Masry supporters hurled sticks and stones as they chased players and fans from the rival team, who ran toward the exits to escape, according to witnesses.

Hesham Sheiha, a health ministry official, said most of the deaths were caused by concussions, deep cuts to the heads and suffocation from the stampede.

TV footage showed Al-Ahly players rushing for their locker room as fist fights broke out among the hundreds of fans swarming on to the field. Some men had to rescue a manager from the losing team as he was being beaten. Black-clothed police officers stood by, appearing overwhelmed.

Egypt’s state prosecutor ordered an immediate investigation into the violence, and the Egypt Football Association ordered an indefinite suspension of the annual championship. The parliament said it would convene an emergency session.

It was the deadliest incident of soccer violence since Oct. 16, 1996, when at least 78 people died and 180 others were injured in a stampede at a stadium in Guatemala City before a World Cup qualifying match between Guatemala and Costa Rica.

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