Eleven Receive Death Sentences for Port Said Soccer Riots

On Tuesday, a court in Egypt handed down death sentences to 11 men for their involvement in a soccer riot that was the worst violence in the history of soccer in Egypt, according to state television.

Over 70 people, including children, were killed February 1, 2012 when soccer fans rioted at a match in Port Said a city in northeastern Egypt.

Fans of Al-Masry the hometown club stormed the pitch after defeating Al-Ahly a club from Cairo. Witnesses looked on horrified as police stood by watching as the fans attacked each other with swords, knives and rocks.

The 11 men sentenced on Tuesday to death was a retrial and they were all affiliated with Al-Masry. They can appeal the sentences, reported state media. Forty others were given prison sentences on Tuesday in the same case.

Following the riots, the next morning the stadium appeared to be a scene out of a horror film, as blood was splattered on walls and seats. Dozens of shoes had been left close to the gate that had been ripped off its hinges by the surging crowd attempting to escape.

Fans from Al-Ahly blamed the police for what took place. The security directorate head in Port Said and the maritime police chief both were given sentences of 5 years over the violence.

After the incident in Port Said, the country banned fans from soccer matches and teams played in stadiums that were nearly empty. Authorities partially lifted this ban later, by allowing a limited number of soccer fans to attend matches, reported state media.

Egypt unfortunately is no stranger to violence in soccer. In February of this year, 19 people died in a crush that involved soccer fans with the Zamalek club.

Authorities blamed those deaths on fans without tickets that tried to push into the match. However, Zamalek fans said something different claiming that they had been tear-gassed while trying to pass through a narrow, single gated entrance.

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