Watching the early news in the UK today, February 2, 2012, it seemed hard to believe that such a bloodbath had occurred during an Egyptian football game. Violence is often no stranger to football but never on such a scale. A large death toll could occur from a football disaster such as Hillsborough but never from fighting. Yet a senior official in Egypt initially said that it "could happen anywhere". I don't think so. A riot could be attempted but the authorities would and should surely quickly act.
What went wrong in Egypt then?
In January 2011 Egyptians took to the streets. They revolted against the corrupt leadership of their country. In the end President Mubarek was overthrown and the Egyptian people were joyous. There was still a long road to travel until peace and a new era descended on Egypt. The people are still on that same road.
Much has happened in Egypt in the last year, yet in some ways nothing has happened. Late in 2011 protesters took to the streets again to express their concerns over the military's grip on Egypt. The old military, who had so many links to Mubarek and the past still had the upper hand in the country. Although a partial step down followed Egypt and Egyptians are still in turmoil.
For some, the failure to act quickly when violence broke out at yesterday's football match, is seen as payback. It has been viewed by some as those in authority purposely holding back, having been attacked in the past for restraining protesters. Whatever went wrong has had disastorus results.
At least 73 people were killed and around 1,000 injured. The match in Port Said, between home team Al Masry beat Egypt's top club Al Ahly was over, bar the shouting, as they say. The score was 3 - 1 for Al Masry and many in the crowd were not happy. A pitch invasion followed. Fighting and brutal attacks with knives, sticks and stones broke out. Fans as well as players fled for their lives, but sadly some did not make it. The two teams have a history of bitter rivalry but not on this scale. Some people died, crushed, as they tried to flee the threat of physical attack.
Today the funerals of some of the dead have taken place and a three-day period of mourning has begun. The head of security in the northern city of Port Said and
city security chief Essam Samak have been sacked. Some Egyptians believe it is not about football at all but rather a way of undermining Egyptian peace. Also today protests are gathering in Tahir Square, heart of the Egyptian revolution to protest.
Whilst tit for tat accusations fly around little is resolved. Islamists in the country blame supporters of ousted leader President Mubarek for instigating the violence. The new order claim that the authorities did not do enough to prevent the massacre. The authorities maintain that they were slow to respond after actions they took against protesters in November 2011 left many people dead. It does seem as if Egypt is slowly but surely descending back into civil unrest.
Last night as news of the violence spread in Egypt a football match in Cairo was hastily cancelled. Crowds went on the rampage setting light to parts of the Stadium.SkyNews
has reported after the Port Said mayhemthat "Goalkeeper Sharif Ikrami, who was injured in the clashes, said: "There were people dying in front of us. It's over. We've all made a decision that we won't play soccer any more. How will we play soccer after 70 people died? We can't think about it." Another player, Mohammed Abu Trika, said: "People here are dying and no-one is doing a thing. It's like a war. Is life this cheap?""RIP