The death toll of a football match riot in Egypt's Port Said rose to 74 with hundreds of others injured, state media reported on Wednesday night.
Fans rushed to the stadium field where el-Masry, a Port Said team, beat the most popular national team el-Ahly three to one in an Egyptian premier league.
Football fans set up fireworks at Cairo International Stadium on Feb. 1, 2012. The second half of a football match at Cairo International Stadium was cancelled due to the riot during football match in Port Said. The death toll from a football riot in Egypt's Port Said rose to 73, state TV reported on Wednesday night.(Xinhua/Ayman Mose)
Due to insufficient security, most of the fans entered the stadium with sticks in their hands and supporters of the two rival teams started fighting each other.
Two Ahly players are reportedly slightly injured in the clash.
The riot was caused by some insulting posters carried by the Ahly fans, Nile TV reported. One of the posters read "Port Said is like rubbish and it has no men."
Chief of Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Hussein Tantawi, ordered two military helicopters to transfer the players, fans and the injured to the capital Cairo.
Egyptian Prosecutor General Abdel Maguid Mahmoud ordered an investigation into the riot. The parliament will hold an emergency session Thursday over the incident.
A match between Zamalik and Ismaily, held in Cairo International Stadium, was cancelled after the first half finished on Wednesday evening.
When the technical mangers of the two teams heard about what happened in Port Said, they decided to cancel the match for the safety of their players.
Team El-Ahly football players get away from the field during a football match riot at a stadium in Port Said of Egypt on Feb. 1, 2012. The death toll from a football riot in Egypt's Port Said rose to 74, state TV reported on Wednesday night. (Xinhua/Ahmad Radi)
A big fire erupted in the Cairo stadium when the fans started to set ablaze the flags and posters in a protest against the cancellation.
Some people stood in the middle of the stadium in solidarity with the dead in Port Said.
The riot in Port Said expanded to the streets outside the stadium, forcing the nearby shops to close down.
"This is deeply saddening. It is the biggest disaster in Egypt' s soccer history," Deputy Health Minister Hesham Sheiha told the state television.
Moemn Zakaria, a Masry player expressed his sorrow, saying " what happened ruined our happiness, we played a good match and the fans enjoyed the fair competition."
"Where are the values and the principles the Egyptian people?" questioned the player. "If this is the case with the matches, it's better to stay away from football."
Port Said Governor Ahmed Abdullah said that maximum state of alert was declared in all civil and military hospitals, according to the official MENA news agency.
"There should be an urgent investigation and severe punishments for those proved to be involved in the clashes," said Al Azhar Mufti Aly Goma.
In his statement, Goma urged the Egyptians to avoid violence or incitement.
President of the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) Samir Zahar announced the postponement of the Egyptian premier league until further notice.
He said the EFA will hold a meeting with the Sport National Council to form a fact finding committee on the incident.
Other teams, el-Gona and Etihad Saqandary decided to boycott the Egyptian football in a protest against the bloody clashes.
We decided to suspend our participation till the riots that overwhelmed our fields disappear, the head of Saqandary board of directors told MENA.
Essam Eryan, a member of Muslim brotherhood and head of the parliamentary foreign relations committee, accused Mubarak remnants of stirring such an incident.