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.

EFL Cup Tues. preview: Spurs-Reds, plenty of non-PL participants

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27:  Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur in action during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at White Hart Lane on August 27, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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Sixteen teams remain in the battle to clinch the Premier League’s first European place of next season’s tournament, and we have some tremendous battles on tap for Tuesday and Wednesday in the EFL Cup (formerly the League Cup).

Today we focus on the 24 hours ahead of us, focusing on Tuesday’s five matches and allowing the Manchester Derby, West Ham-Chelsea, and Southampton-Sunderland to percolate a bit.

[ MORE: Finland’s “Leicester” gets it done ]

That’s not to say we don’t have a pair of giants dueling on Tuesday. Liverpool is three wins away from a return to the final, where the Reds fell in penalties last season. Standing in their way is Tottenham Hotspur, a deep squad which won’t have to worry much about a quick turnaround from Saturday.

That said, the Reds didn’t have to play at all last week, while this will be Spurs third match in a week. Spurs have been to the EFL Cup final thrice since 2008, and one of two teams (Chelsea) to make three finals this decade. Liverpool will start Simon Mignolet between the sticks.

The remaining four EFL Cup matches include at least one team outside the Premier League.

Arsenal will host USMNT midfielder Danny Williams and Reading.

— Hull City is off to Ashton Gate to face Bristol City.

— Newcastle United is leading the Championship, and will get a visit from Preston North End in the first of two matches between the two sides this week.

— Norwich City will pay a visit to Elland Road and Garry Monk‘s Leeds United.

FC Dallas gave injured Mauro Diaz a home champagne shower (video)

FRISCO, TX - APRIL 12:  Mauro Diaz #10 of the FC Dallas controls the ball against the Seattle Sounders FC on April 12, 2014 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.  (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
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FC Dallas has two jewels of its triple crown all set, having claimed the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and the Supporters’ Shield.

One of the key reasons the club was able to sustain its pace this season was Mauro Diaz, 25, who shone even as Fabian Castillo shockingly left the club before the stretch run.

[ MORE: MLS Cup predictions ]

A River Plate product, Diaz gave FCD seven goals and 15 assists over 32 appearances before tearing an achilles tendon last week.

Diaz underwent season-ending surgery, but his teammates made sure he was a part of the champagne celebration by heading to his very nice-looking house for an early morning visit.

[ MORE: Pre-playoff power rankings ]


VIDEO: Premier League Player of the Week – Matchday 9

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There was some eye-popping moments in the Premier League this weekend, yet still very little debate who shone brightest.

Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri scored a pair of Goal of the Month competitors in the same day in the Potters’ 2-0 win at Hull City on Monday.

[ MORE: MLS Cup predictions ]

The first was a curling wonder from distance, while the second came from a bit closer as the big-calfed Swiss attacker bamboozled the Hull wall and goalkeeper.

The Potters are up to 16th in the Premier League table with nine points.

Finnish fans celebrate surprise title for IFK Mariehamn

IFK Mariehamm
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HELSINKI (AP) Fans of IFK Mariehamn have gathered in the main square of the remote Finnish town to celebrate their team’s surprise league title.

“I feel very proud,” the club’s managing director, Peter Mattsson, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview on Monday, adding that “thousands” were expected to turn up for the party.

Watched by more than 4,000, Mariehamn clinched the Finnish title on Sunday with a 2-1 home victory over Ilves, from the industrial city of Tampere.

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Mariehamn held off 11 other teams, including the traditionally strong Helsinki club, HJK, and defending champion SJK from western Finland. It ended three points clear of second-placed HJK for its first league title.

Local media dubbed the team “Leicester” after the surprise English Premier League champions last season.

Mariehamn, which has a population of 11,500, is the capital of the Aland islands off the southwestern Finnish coast