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Egyptian FA disbanded after Port Said riots

ESPNsoccernet staff
February 2, 2012
The death toll has risen to 74 after the Egyptian football riot © Getty Images

Egyptian prime minister Kamal el-Ganzouri has disbanded the board of the country's Football Association in response to the ugly clashes at Port Said Stadium on Wednesday, which left 74 people dead.

Al-Masry fans stormed the pitch in the aftermath of their side's victory over Al-Ahly, and violent scenes ensued as away supporters and players were attacked, with many caught up in a stampede as they tried to escape.

FIFA immediately demanded a report into how such a tragedy was allowed to happen and El-Ganzouri has moved swiftly to dissolve the Egyptian FA's board, referring its members to prosecutors investigating the incident.

The Egyptian premier announced the decision during an emergency parliamentary session on Thursday, also revealing that Port Said's governor and police chief have resigned in the wake of the tragedy.

Football fans and politicians have pointed the finger at the Egyptian army, with TV footage showing security forces making little attempt to prevent the pitch invasion, prompting widespread anger and suggestions that the tragedy may have been allowed to happen as retribution for the Egyptian revolution that began in January last year.

Al-Ahly coach Manuel Jose was among those to express his horror at the events that unfolded and he has now returned to his native Portugal.

"I was beaten with fists and kicks to the neck, head and feet," Jose said. "There I saw our fans die before us and we are unable to do anything.

"Nothing happened to any of the players but we feel overwhelming sadness and the return flight was made in silence, full of respect for the lives of our fans who died.

"I have to think about my life differently now. Although everybody loves me greatly here, this experience has changed my life completely."

FIFA vice president Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan added: "It saddens me to witness such violence in a sport that has the power to unify nations and overcome differences.

"I have confidence in the Egyptian football family and their ability to recover from this tragedy and regain their strength."

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