The Egyptian Football Authority (EFA) have suspended league matches indefinitely following the death of not less than 22 fans in clashes with police in Cairo.
A riot broke out outside the Air Defence Stadium east of Cairo leading to stampede and fighting between police and supporters of Zamalek, trying to force their way in for a game against city rivals ENPPI.
The incident comes on the heels of a similar violence which killed 74 people at a match in Port Said three years ago.
Egyptian Premier League supporters were only allowed to attend matches last December, with limited numbers allowed into stadiums.
The State Media reported that the Interior Ministry had planned to let only 10,000 fans into the 30,000 capacity Air Defence stadium for Sunday’s match.
But thousands of Zamalek fans, who were without tickets, reportedly tried to force their way into the match venue.
The Interior Ministry said they had “attempted to storm the stadium gates by force, which prompted police to prevent them from continuing the assault,” sparking clashes and a deadly stampede.
“Because of the stampede, some choked and died from asphyxiation, while the rest died from being trampled,” a police is reported as saying on state-run newspaper, al-Ahram.
But the ‘White Knights’- a Zamalek supporters’ group- posted on their official Facebook page that the stampede began when the police fired tear gas at a crowd being forced to pass through a barbed-wire passageway about 3.7m (12ft) wide.
President of world football’s governing body Fifa, Sepp Blatter, in a letter to the head of the EFA, Mohammed Gamal, condoled with the federation.
“We await the results of the investigation into this tragedy and are ready to provide the Egyptian Football Association with any support they may need in dealing with the aftermath of this event,” Blatter added.