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Blatter asks Egypt to provide reasons for violence

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ZURICH (AP)

FIFA President Sepp Blatter asked the Egyptian Football Association on Thursday for details on the causes of the stadium riot that killed at least 74 fans.

TRAGEDY IN EGYPT

Football violence rears its ugly head in Egypt. Here's a look at the tragedy from the soccer stadium in Port Said.

In the deadliest soccer violence since 1996, fans were crushed to death while others were fatally stabbed or suffocated in a stampede following Al-Masry's league match against Al-Ahly in the Mediterranean city of Port Said.

''I fully understand the country's shock and anger that such a disaster could have come to pass,'' Blatter wrote to EFA President Samir Zaher. ''Today is a black day for football and we must take steps to ensure that such a catastrophe never happens again. Football is a force for good, and we must not allow it to be abused by those who mean evil.

''As discussed on the telephone this morning, I await further news from you concerning the circumstances of this tragedy.''

Egyptian activists have accused the police and military of failing to intervene to stop the mayhem in Port Said.

The melee erupted when Al-Masry fans stormed the field following a surprising 3-1 win against Al-Ahly. Al-Masry supporters, armed with knives, sticks and stones, chased players and fans from the rival team, Al-Ahly, who ran toward the exits and up the stands to escape, according to witnesses.

''As always, FIFA stands by your side at this difficult time and is ready to provide you with any support you may need,'' Blatter wrote to the Egyptian FA.

The Interior Ministry said 74 people died, including one police officer, and 248 were injured, 14 of them police.

''My thoughts are with the families of all those who have lost their lives,'' Blatter said.

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