CAIRO: Egypt’s cabinet has ordered an immediate halt to league competition indefinitely after clashes between Zamalek’s fans and security forces left up to 30 dead on Sunday.
The decision came after an urgent meeting between Egypt’s Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and the interior, sports and health ministers to discuss the disaster.
Zamalek’s hardcore fans clashed with Egyptian police before a Premier League game against ENPPI in the deadliest football-related incident since the infamous Port Said disaster three years ago.
Police used tear gas to disperse members of the Ultras White Knights in front of Cairo’s Air Defence Stadium, an army-owned venue, a few hours before Zamalek played ENPPI in a top-of-the-table clash.
The Egyptian interior ministry said the clashes occurred after Ultras White Knights members tried to attend the game without buying tickets.
Egypt’s Football Association suspended its decision to lift a crowd ban in league games after the clashes.
A league crowd ban that has been in place since the 2012 Port Said tragedy, which left over 70 Ahly fans dead, was partially lifted as authorities said they would gradually allow fans to return to the stands.
FIFA president Joseph S Blatter has sent a letter of condolence to Mohamed Gamal, the president of the Egyptian Football Association (EFA), following the tragic events at the match between Zamalek and ENPPI, in which a number of people lost their lives. FIFA President Blatter also extended an offer of support to the EFA, adding that FIFA would be on hand for any help required in the aftermath of the tragedy.
“I would like to express my deepest condolences to the Egyptian football community for the tragic events that occurred at last night’s match in Cairo between Zamalek and ENPPI,” Blatter wrote.
“My thoughts and sympathies are with the families of all those who have lost their lives yesterday evening. It is so sad that a game of football, which should be the scene of joy and positive emotions, should be overshadowed in this way.
“We await the results of the investigation into this tragedy and are ready to provide the Egyptian Football Association with any support they may need in dealing with the aftermath of this event,” FIFA President Blatter concluded.