01:50 - Source: CNN AP
Are police to blame for stampede that killed 19?

Story highlights

It is the deadliest soccer-related violence in Egypt since a stampede three years ago

Soccer fans and Egypt's Interior Ministry differ on what started the violence

CNN —  

Despite clashes that killed at least 19 fans before kickoff, a soccer match in Egypt continued to the very end, state media reported.

The nation’s Health Ministry said 19 people died in the riots at a match in Cairo on Sunday.

The violence occurred shortly before the match, but the game between Zamalek and ENPPI teams continued, Al-Ahram newspaper said. It ended with a 1-1 draw.

Soccer fans posted social media images of what they said were bodies from the riots, some still wearing jerseys with their teams’ names.

Screaming relatives and friends gathered at the morgue in central Cairo, where they waited for the bodies. Fans from rival clubs went to console the grieving as a show of solidarity.

Pointing fingers

Shortly after the incident, soccer fans traded accusations with the Interior Ministry, which blamed the violence on riots from ticketless fans who tried to push their way in.

“They climbed the fence. The security forces tried to disperse them, the fans fled to the main road and blocked traffic and stopped the bus carrying the Zamalek soccer team,” the ministry said in a statement. “They set fire to a police vehicle. We got reports of fatalities because of a stampede.”

But Zamalek fans painted a different picture.

In a social media posting, they said they were tear gassed as they tried to go through a single, small gated entrance that was opened to allow them into the match.

Premier league suspended

Egypt’s general prosecutor is sending a team to investigate. Meanwhile, the Cabinet has suspended the nation’s premier league matches indefinitely.

Sunday’s attack is not the first violence at a game.

Three years ago, a riot at a match between Al-Masry and Al-Ahly teams left more than 70 people dead in Port Said city.

Horrified witnesses described how police officers stood by and watched as rival fans attacked one another with rocks, knives and swords.

After that incident, Egypt banned soccer fans from games. Teams played in nearly empty stadiums.

Authorities later partially lifted the ban by allowing a limited number of fans to attend games, state media reported.

CNN’s Ian Lee and Dana Ford contributed to this report.