Football Ban Decision breaks out Clashes in Port Said

Big 5

Clashes have broken out in the Egyptian city of Port Said after its football club was suspended over match violence that killed at least 74 in February.

One protester was shot dead and several injured as hundreds of angry fans of al-Masry club battled security forces.

The two-year ban was imposed on the club, one of Egypt’s top teams, because of the violence at its stadium during a game with Cairo’s al-Ahly.

A criminal investigation into the incident is continuing.

On Friday the Egyptian Football Association suspended al-Masry from competitions until the end of 2013.

Al-Ahly was ordered to play four games behind closed doors. The club’s coach and captain have been suspended and fined.

Supporters of the Cairo club denounced the punishment on al-Masry as weak, saying they would hold a sit-in at the team’s grounds on Sunday.

Last week, Egypt’s chief prosecutor charged 75 people with murder or negligence over the 1 February violence.

Nine police officers were reportedly among those facing charges.

Rumors that the police had failed to intervene sparked days of clashes across the country in which a further 16 people died.

Al-Masry won the game 3-1, but as the match ended their fans invaded the pitch, attacking al-Ahly players and fans.

The two teams are long-standing rivals whose games have required a large security presence.

But there were claims that fans had been allowed to take knives and other weapons into the stadium.

In the days following the riot, large protests blaming the military government for the deaths were held outside the interior ministry in the capital, Cairo.

The BBC’s John Leyne in Cairo says many Egyptians believe the authorities either orchestrated the violence or allowed it to continue because of the al-Ahly fans’ support of the revolution which overthrew Hosni Mubarak last year.

The football league season was cancelled in the wake of the unrest and has not yet restarted.