Egypt's 'worst' soccer disaster
Players of the Egyptian Al-Ahly club run for safety (AP)
Cairo - Seventy-three people were killed and at least 1 000 injured on Wednesday after a soccer pitch invasion in the Egyptian city of Port Said, a health ministry official said, in an incident that one player described as "a war, not football".
"This is unfortunate and deeply saddening. It is the biggest disaster in Egypt's soccer history," deputy health minister Hesham Sheiha told state television.
Violence at football matches across north Africa has increased significantly since political unrest sweeping across the region began more than a year ago.
Wednesday's trouble flared at the end of a match when Port Said team al-Masry beat Al-Ahli, one of Egypt's most successful clubs, 3-1.
Live television footage showed fans running onto the field and chasing Ahli players. A small group of riot police formed a corridor to try to protect the players, but they appeared overwhelmed and fans were still able to kick and punch the players as they fled.
"This is not football. This is a war and people are dying in front of us. There is no movement and no security and no ambulances," Ahli player Mohamed Abo Treika told his club's television channel.
"I call for the premier league to be cancelled. This is horrible situation and today can never be forgotten."
State television reported that Egypt's football federation had indefinitely delayed premier league matches.
Another match in Cairo was halted by the referee after receiving news of the violence in Port Said, prompting fans to set parts of the stadium on fire, television footage showed. This image made from Egypt TV shows fans at a soccer stadium in Port Said, Egypt. (AP)