Chaos at African Champs League clash

After a goal by Egypt's Zamalek team was disallowed, angry fans stormed the pitch, attacking the rival Tunisian team.

    Scenes from the chaos that unfolded during the game on Nile TV, an Egyptian network [Youtube]

    Egypt have abandoned plans to resume domestic football in mid-April after a weekend crowd invasion.

    Incredible scenes took place at Cairo's main stadium during the highly-anticipated match between top Egyptian team Zamalek and Tunisia's Club Africain in their African Champions League clash.

    Club Africain, who beat Zamalek 4-2 in an earlier match nearly two weeks ago, were again ahead 2-1 on Saturday. 

    But the game broke down after thousands Egyptian fans invaded the pitch, and according to Ahramonline, three Tunisian players are missing, with Egyptian fans damaging the stadium when a Zamalek goal was given offside.

    The Egyptian players can clearly be seen forming a human shield around the Tunisian players in an attempt to protect them from the angry mob.

    Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from Cairo, said that the stadium was not heavily guarded. "There was a lack of police personnel," said Khodr. 

    "Local and international matches have been suspended over the past weeks as a result of the uprising. They only resumed recently." 

    According to RassdNews, the army intervened to disperse the crowd.

    Egypt's official news agency, MENA, quoted an official with the health ministry as saying that nine people were wounded in the fracas.


    Egyptians took to microblogging site Twitter and expressed sorrow and regret for what happened on the pitch on Saturday night.

    One witness with the Twitter handle Kalimakhus posted from the stadium that the behaviour of those who stormed the pitch, attacking the Tunisian players was a source of "shame and disaster" on Egyptian history.

    Another Tweeter, Raafatology, echoed what many other Egyptians expressed - regret - when he posted, "Dear #Tunisia, I'm sorry about what happened today. You must believe this really isn't us. Sincerely, #Egypt".

    Despite the fact that pro-democracy fans in each country supported the other in the recent uprisings that saw long-standing dictators deposed, the rivalry between the two teams is historically heated.

    Prime Minister Essam Sharaf has apologised to Tunisia over the incident and the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces ordered an inquiry after saying the violence had damaged the reputation of Egypt.

    African Champions League organisers seem certain to award the tie to Club Africain while Zamalek could face various punishments, including a fine and being forced to stage African fixtures outside Cairo behind closed doors.

    National football association president Samir Zaher reacted to what happened at the 75,000-seat Cairo Stadium by announcing on Sunday that the resumption of the league had been postponed indefinitely.

    "After speaking with the authorities we decided to postpone the league without setting a date for its resumption," Zaher told media in the Egyptian capital.

    "What happened in the game between Zamalek and Club Africain made it clear that matches cannot be resumed. Maybe we can resume the league at a later stage behind closed doors." 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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