* Anger over security forces' failure to prevent unrest
* Most victims killed in crush, say witnesses
* Parliament to meet to discuss the violence
* Remnants of Mubarak regime want more bloodshed-Brotherhood
PORT SAID, Egypt, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Seventy-four
people were killed and at least 1,000 injured on Wednesday when
Egyptian soccer fans staged a pitch invasion in the city of Port
Said, the deadliest incident since the ouster of President Hosni
Mubarak from power.
Angry politicians decried a lack of security at the match
between Port Said team al-Masry and Cairo's Al Ahli, Egypt's
most successful club, and blamed the nation's leaders for
allowing - or even causing - the tragedy.
"Down with military rule," thousands of Egyptians chanted at
the main train station Cairo where they awaited the return of
fans, quickly turning the biggest disaster in the nation's
soccer history into a political demonstration against army rule.
"The people want the execution of the field marshal," they
shouted, turning on the ruler of the military council, Field
Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who tried to assuage anger by
vowing to find the culprits in a phone call to a TV channel.
The post-match pitch invasion provoked panic among the crowd
as rival fans fought, with most of the deaths among people who
were trampled in the crush of the panicking crowd or who fell or
were thrown from terraces, witnesses and health workers said.
"I saw people holding machetes and knives. Some were hit
with these weapons, other victims were flung from their seats,
while the invasion happened," Usama El Tafahni, a journalist in
Port Said who attended the match, told Reuters.
Many of the Al Ahli fans involved were "ultras", dedicated
supporters of the team with years of experience confronting
police at football matches and who played a leading role in
hitting back at heavy-handed security forces during the uprising
that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.
The have been seen as at the vanguard of subsequent clashes
with police and the army in violence that followed Mubarak's
ouster, and were also among those who protested outside the
Israeli embassy and tore down walls that the army erected to
protect the embassy.
Tantawi pledged that the army's plan to hand over power to
civilians would not be derailed.
"Egypt will be stable. We have a roadmap to transfer power
to elected civilians. If anyone is plotting instability in Egypt
they will not succeed," he told Al Ahli's sports channel during
Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said 47 people had been
arrested and state television quoted Tantawi as saying a
fact-finding committee would investigate the violence.
Deputy Health Minister Hesham Sheiha the "deeply saddening"
event was "the biggest disaster in Egypt's soccer history."
FANS FLUNG FROM TERRACES
The violence flared after the match between al-Masry and Al
Ahli, whose fans have a history of fierce rivalry. Witnesses
said fighting began after Ahli fans unfurled banners insulting
Port Said and one descended to the pitch carrying an iron bar at
the end of the match, which al-Masry won 3-1.
Al-Masry fans reacted by pouring onto the pitch and
attacking Ahli players before turning to the terraces to attack
Many fans died in a subsequent stampede, while some were
flung off their seats onto the pitch and were killed by the
fall. At the height of the disturbances, rioting fans fired
flares straight into the stands.
Hospitals throughout the Suez Canal zone were put on a state
of alert and dozens of ambulances rushed to Port Said from the
Canal cities of Ismailia and Suez, said an official in the
zone's local ambulance service.
Live television coverage showed fans running onto the field
and chasing Al 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," Al Ahli player Mohamed Abo Treika told his club's
Tantawi ordered two helicopters be sent to Port Said to fly
out some of the visiting Al Ahli soccer team and its fans,
military sources said. The helicopters would transfer the
injured to military hospitals, the sources said.
Egypt's top Muslim cleric called the events a massacre that
violated the words and teachings of Islam.
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.
State television reported that Egypt's football federation
had indefinitely suspended premier league matches.
Sepp Blatter, president of the FIFA world soccer federation,
expressed his shock at the tragedy. "This is a black day for
football. Such a catastrophic situation is unimaginable and
should not happen," he said in a statement.
Some enraged politicians and ordinary Egyptians accused
officials still in their jobs after the fall of Mubarak of
complicity in the tragedy, or at least of allowing a security
vacuum in which violence has flourished since last year's
"The security forces are responsible for what happened.
There is no security," said shop owner Farouk Ibrahim, 42,
outside a Port Said hospital where dozens of injured were
"Unknown groups came between the fans and they were the ones
that started the chaos. I was at the match and I saw that the
group that did this are not from Port Said," he said.
"They were thugs, like the thugs the National Democratic
Party used in elections," he said, referring to Mubarak's former
Essam el-Erian, a member of parliament of the Muslim
Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party which topped recent
parliamentary election, said the violence was "pre-planned
and...a message from the remnants of the regime. There are those
who want the bloodshed to continue."
In a statement on its website the Brotherhood later said the
violence had been orchestrated by an "invisible" hand and that
the authorities had been negligent.
"We fear that some officers are punishing the people for
their revolution and for depriving them of their ability to act
as tyrants and restricting their privileges," it added.
Albadry Farghali, a member of parliament for Port Said,
accused officials and security forces of allowing the disaster,
saying they still had ties to the government of Mubarak, who was
overthrown a year ago.
"The security forces did this or allowed it to happen. The
men of Mubarak are still ruling. The head of the regime has
fallen but all his men are still in their positions," he
screamed in a telephone call to live television.
Families of the victims rushed around hospitals in Port
Said. A medical source and witnesses said a number of policemen
were among the dead.
Thursday marks the first anniversary of clashes on Tahrir
Square when Mubarak supporters on camelback charged
pro-democracy demonstrators, and fought with the ultras.
Online activists saw a connection with the ultras.
"The police and army (did not move) a muscle to prevent the
bloodshed," activist Sohair Riad wrote on Facebook. "Their
silence screams complicity. This is a collective assassination
of a group that continues to support the revolution and
struggles against military rule."
(Additional reporting by Dina Zayed, Ali Abdelatti, Edmund
Blair, Yasmine Saleh, Shaimaa Fayed and Patrick Werr in Cairo;
writing by David Stamp; Editing by Jon Boyle)