CAIRO: Manuel Jose, Al-Ahly’s Portuguese coach, has told club president Hassan Hamdi he wants to leave Egypt after the Port Said stadium disaster. He has asked for his contract to be formally terminated.
Manuel Jose, 65, said: “I have informed the Portuguese embassy that I discussed my decision to leave Egypt with the club’s management.” Hamdi has said he hoped Jose would resume discussions about his departure after taking a holiday at home in Portugal.
The coach told a Portuguese TV channel: “Egyptian security is responsible for what happened. They dominated the stadium then suddenly disappeared.”
He added: “I was beaten with fists and kicks to the neck, head and feet. I saw our fans die before us and we were unable to do anything. From the beginning of the game, the fans of the opposing team were allowed to fire rockets and stones at us without any intervention. In the end, it turned into a state of madness without any role for the security in the stands. We tried to save the lives of some of the fans, but many died before our eyes.
“Nothing happened to any of the players but we feel overwhelming sadness. I have to think about my life differently now. Although everybody loves me greatly in Egypt, this experience has changed my life completely.”
A statement issued by the Egyptian federation on suspension of all competition said: “The Egyptian federation has decided to stop the football leagues in all four divisions for an indefinite period after the violence that occurred in the game between al-Masry and al-Ahly, which represented a tragic shock to the centre of sport in general and the football family in particular.”
Earlier in the day FIFA president Sepp Blatter described the disaster as a “black day for football” in a message of condolence and support to the country’s football association.
The world football federation issued a statement from Zurich says it was “deeply saddened by the tragic incidents which led to the death of football fans and others,” requested a full report on the incidents and noted its “strict safety regulations” and guidelines for all competitions.
In a personal letter to Samir Zaher, still president of the EFA before its board was sacked en bloc by the government, Blatter hinted at the wider concerns over the underlying causes of the tragedy.
He said: “I would like to join your country and the football family in mourning the deaths of the dozens of Egyptian football fans and others at last night’s match in Port Said. My thoughts are with the families of all those who have lost their lives and I fully understand the country’s shock and anger that such a disaster has come to pass.
“Today is a black day for football and we must take steps to ensure that such a catastrophe never happens again. Football is a force for good and we must not allow it to be abused by those who mean evil. As discussed by telephone this morning I await further news from you concerning the circumstances of this tragedy. As always FIFA stands by your side at this difficult time and is ready to provide you with any support you may need.”