Egypt Soccer Violence: Death Penalty Verdict Produces Bloody Clashes Between Ultras and Police

A court in Egypt sentenced 21 people to death on charges of a deadly soccer violence rampage that on February 1, 2012, killed 74 fans of al-Ahly one of Cairo's most popular soccer clubs after a match in the country's Mediterranean city of Port Said — reported the London Evening Standard. 

Judge Sobhi Abdel-Maguid said he would announce the verdict for the remaining 52 defendants — 9 of which are security officials — on March 9.

According to the Standard, Egypt's die-hard soccer fans — a.k.a. "Ultras" — have also been involved in the political protests of the last two years against President Morsi; and both "Al-Ahly Ultras" (Cairo) and "Al-Masry Ultras" (Port Said) believe last year's attack was instigated by ex-members of the Mubarak regime. 

On February 1, 2012, the violence started after the visiting Al-Ahly defeated home team Al-Masry 3-1. Al-Masry Ultras stormed the field and attacked Al-Ahly Ultras by undressing them and carving the words "Port Said" into their bodies while beating them with iron bars. Survivors say the police "stood by without doing nothing."

Al-Ahly Ultras had vowed to bloodily retaliate if the court stopped short of sentencing the accused Al-Masry Ultras to death. However, Port Said supporters have protested the sentence in violent street clash that — according to the WSJ — have killed at least 30 and injured other 300 in several cities.