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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Egypt\'s Soccer Riots, a View From the Ground

Video posted online appears to show fans of Cairo’s Al Ahly soccer team celebrating a court verdict.

It was one of the world’s deadliest episodes of soccer violence â€" a clash between fans of the Egyptian team Al Masry, of Port Said, and players and fans from Al Ahly, of Cairo, a year ago that killed 74 and wounded over 1,000.

On Saturday, a court in Cairo handed down death sentences for 21 of those involved in the riots. The violence that the verdict prompted, involving hard-core “ultra” supporters of both teams, killed at least 28 and wounded at least 300, my colleagues David Kirkpatrick and Mayy El Sheikh reported.

Pictures and video from Port Said and Cairo were markedly different. In Cairo, as the video at the top of this post shows, there were widespread celebrations. In Port Said, a city of about 600,000:

Rioters looted and burned a police barracks and set fire to a police station. They attacked members of the news media, damaging television cameras that sought to film the violence and ending their broadcasts. They closed off all roads into Port Said as well as the railroad station, and the Ministry of Electricity and Energy said rioters had attacked a power facility as well.

Video posted online appears to show protesters in Port Said.

Pictures from later in the day showed fires burning in Port Said:

In Cairo, Mr. Kirkpatrick and Ms. El Sheikh reported, the families of those killed in the clash last year “held pictures of the victims in the air. Some danced and chanted. A few fainted. And the Cairo ultras celebrated for hours outside their team’s headquarters.”

Video posted online appears to show celebrations in Cairo.

Tara Todras-Whitehill, a photographer in Cairo, posted further pictures of the celebrations on her Twitter account.