Al Ahly fans celebrate and shout slogans in front of Al Ahly club after hearing the final verdict of the 2012 Port Said massacre in Cairo

Death toll from Port Said tragedy rises after today’s verdicts


Another ugly chapter in the Port Said tragedy is playing out in Egypt today with at least 30 dead and more than 200 injured after courts sentenced 21 to death in connection with last February’s stadium disaster.

Looking back on the week leading up to the verdict, it appeared some spark of violence was inevitable. Supporters of Cario-based club Al Ahly, who saw many of their supporters killed in the Feb. 1, 2011 tragedy, looked to judge Sobhy Abdel Maguid’s verdict as an opportunity for justice, threatening their own reaction should judgment not be harsh enough. Fans of Port Said club Al-Masry, however, had been wary of a possibly politically motivated court placing disproportionate blame on their fans.

Violence started soon after the court’s verdict was read, with Egyptian state television reporting gunshots were heard near a Port Said prison were suspects were being detained. Tear gas was also fired in the area of supporters gathered near the facility in support of the accused.

Last February, 79 people were killed after violence at the end of an Al-Masry-Al Ahly match. A panic that started after Al-Masry fans attacked rival supporters led to over 1,000 injuries, the casualties caused by the post-match crush as well as weaponry Al-Masry fans had brought to the match.

Amid security concerns, the rest of the Egyptian Premier League season was subsequently cancelled. The league is scheduled to re-start play on February 2.

Today’s violence reflects Egypt’s still tenuous political state, with Al-Masry supporters having always suspected last year’s tragedy presented an opportunity for the country’s post-Honsi Mubarak government to crack down on a known liberal group. Yet had the verdicts failed to come down hard on those involved in the tragedy, the violence could have been in Cairo. Al Ahly fans would have acted against the perceived lenient sentences on a group of suspects they see as responsible for last year’s deaths. Either way, we would have seen a display of one group’s lack of faith in Egypt’s justice system.

For soccer fans, it’s another example of the game serving as a crude tool for others’ politics, whether that use was intended last February or not. Regardless, after today’s verdict and violent response, the death toll from last year’s disaster is set to rise to 112, should the court’s sentences be carried out.

Klopp to the Kop: Multiple reports say deal agreed at Liverpool

TURIN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 24:  Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp shouts to his players during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match between Juventus and Borussia Dortmund at Juventus Arena on February 24, 2015 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)
Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Jurgen Klopp is on his way to Liverpool to sign a contract naming him the next coach of the Reds.

The celebrated manager, 48, has been on “hiatus” from football since leaving Borussia Dortmund last season.

[ MORE: Messi to stand trial in Spain ]

Reports starting emerging earlier today that an agreement was imminent, and now the BBC is among those reporting that Klopp will be rolled out Friday morning.

From the BBC:

No contract has yet been signed but that is viewed as a formality when Klopp arrives in Liverpool later on Thursday. He will be officially unveiled by Liverpool on Friday morning at 10:00 BST.

There’s not much to say besides this: Klopp’s addition to the Premier League will give more color and brilliance to the country’s footballing scene. Only a certain class of manager can be instantly expected to find a better system for an inherited group of players.

This could and should be a game changer on Merseyside.

Appeal rejected! Lionel Messi will face court trial in Spain

VIGO, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 23:  Lionel Messi looks dejected after the La Liga match between Celta Vigo and FC Barcelona at Estadio Balaidos on September 23, 2015 in Vigo, Spain.  (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)
Alex Caparros/Getty Images
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It was a mere 48 hours ago that Lionel Messi looked close to in the clear when it came to tax evasion charges.

Now the question is whether a Spanish court will lock away the greatest active footballer, as a judge rejected the prosecutors’ (!!!) request to drop the charges.

[ WATCH: Hilarious spoof pegs Messi, Ronaldo as “Friends” ]

Messi and his father have already made a $5.5 million corrective payment, but there’s principle in play here. And the judge wants to know how Messi can claim he had no idea what was being done with his money.

From the BBC:

Lawyers acting on behalf of the tax authorities demanded 22-month jail sentences for both defendants.

“There are rational signs that the criminality was committed by both accused parties,” wrote the judge in a court filing, according to the AFP news agency.

Can you imagine one of the world’s richer men ending up in a Spanish prison? It’s very difficult to consider. In some ways it’s more plausible that he would buy his own island and start the “Messi Isle Premiership”.

Still, we won’t laugh off the idea, especially with FIFA apparently going down. Messi in prison. That’s something. Sepp in Switzerland. Lionel in Spain.