The deaths of 22 soccer fans outside a stadium in Cairo in a melee with Egyptian security forces revived the scrutiny of tactics by police in the Arab country less than 30 days after a woman had been shot to death during a dispersal of what was called a peaceful protest marking the 2011 uprising’s anniversary.
The violence following a match on Sunday, which prompted the government to suspend the national soccer league indefinitely, came only three years after one of the deadliest riots involving soccer in the history of the sport, and dealt another blow to the government’s attempt to emit an image of strong stability after four years of turmoil.
The government announced the suspension of the league late on Sunday following a clash between riot police and hundreds of fans. Tear gas was fired to clear a corridor that led to the stadium setting off what turned out to be a deadly stampede.
Egypt suspended its soccer league last in 2012 after the death of 74 fans in rioting following a match in Port Said on the Suez Canal.
Fans have just recently been given the approval to return to stadiums but Egyptian authorities continue to limit how many can attend.
On Monday, the pro-government media along with the Ministry of the Interior, which controls the police, sought ways to deflect any blame from its security forces.
The Zamalek president told a television station that the security forces did not shot at the fans from the club as had been recorded widely on social media.
Authorities said the violence on Sunday began when hundreds of Zamalek fans called the Ultras White Knights attempted to force their way in to watch the match without having any tickets.
The White Knights, on their Facebook page said that authorities only opened one very narrow door that was barbed wire to let the fans in. They said that led to a great deal of pushing and shoving, which prompted police to shot birdshot and tear gas.
Rocks were thrown at police, who fired the tear gas, but a stampede ensued and those who fell down never got back up again.