By Chris Wright
This is a real stinker to start the morning but, as was reported at half-time during last night’s Final Score, 74 people are known to have died and at least 1,000 have been injured in a mass pitch invasion during the Egyptian league game between rival sides Al-Masry and Al Ahli in the city of Port Said.
Most of the deaths were caused by the ensuing crush of people attempting to flee the stadium as fans fought inside, with people bottle-necking through exit gates and being flung from terraces.
The violence broke out at the end of the match, which Al-Masry won 3-1, though the tension was rising throughout the game as both sets of fans taunted one-another with banners and chants, before the home supporters charged onto the pitch at the final whistle and began attacking Al-Ahly players and fans as fires were started in the stands.
“This is not football. This is a war and people are dying in front of us,” Al-Ahly player Mohamed Abo Treika said afterwards.
Given the state of flux the country finds itself in at the moment, there were, of course, political undertones to the violence that ensued arising from unrest caused by Egypt’s military government – though we don’t want to get bogged down in the intricacies, as it would take someone a damn sight more qualified than I to accurately relay the ‘whys’ and ‘wherefores’ that bought about the tragic scenes in Port Said last night (try the Guardian’s live feed for starters).
It has since been announced that a minute’s silence will be observed before each of this weekend’s African Cup of Nations quarter-final matches as a mark of respect for those 74 people who went out to watch a football match last night and never came home.