3 Feb 2012

Football violence sparks sackings and protests

2:54 pm on 3 February 2012

Egyptian Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri has sacked the board of the country's football association and says he takes political responsibility for the post-match violence in which 74 people died.

His action comes as clashes continued into the night in Egypt.

The riot began when fans invaded the pitch after a football match involving top Cairo club al-Ahly and local side Port Said al-Masry on Wednesday. Al-Masry supporters attacked the rival club.

The head of the football association has been sacked and the board dissolved, with its members referred to prosecutors for questioning, Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri told an emergency session of parliament.

The governor of Port Said has also resigned, while the city's director of security and head of investigations were suspended and are in custody.

Mr El-Ganzouri announced the sackings and resignation during an angry debate in Parliament which opened with a minute's silence. Speaker Mohamed Saad al-Katatni said the riots were the "work of the devil" and that Egypt's revolution was "in danger".

The sackings are unlikely to satisfy many Egyptians, the BBC reports. There is growing anger toward the Interior Ministry which controls the police, seen as unreformed since the days of President Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt's public prosecutor has ordered the questioning of 52 people arrested after the riots. The governor of Port Said and the head of security are also to be questioned.

Funerals of five of the victims took place in Port Said after noon prayers.

Three days of national mourning have been declared, and all Egyptian premier-league matches have been postponed indefinitely.

The Confederation of African Football said a minute's silence would be held at the quarter-final matches of the African Cup of Nations at the weekend.

World football body Fifa said it was "in mourning" and had asked Egypt for a full report on the incidents.