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Clashes continue over Egypt football club ban

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Fresh clashes have taken place between police and football fans in the northern Egyptian city of Port Said, after their club, al-Masry, was banned for two seasons following the country's worst-ever stadium violence last month.

The clashes began late on Friday night and continued into Saturday night, claiming at least one protester's life and leaving more than 100 others injured.

Stone-throwing protesters clashed with police on Saturday evening near the Suez Canal Authority building, the site of the prvious day's violence. Police responded by firing into the air to disperse the crowd, security officials said. Tear gas was also fired.

The city's harbour was closed on Saturday due to the protests, and ships using the Suez Canal were redirected to a secondary route, located east of the city, the Reuters news agency reported.

Eyewitnesses told Reuters that many factories were also closed on Saturday, as hundreds of protesters had blocked roads leading in to the coastal Mediterranean city.

Dozens crushed

The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) announced the ban on Friday following the pitch invasion that killed 74 fans last month when Port Said-based al-Masry beat Cairo's al-Ahly, the most successful club team in Africa.

Port Said stadium, where the stampede took place, would be closed for three years, the EFA said.

Al-Ahly were ordered to play four matches behind closed doors, while the club's coach and captain were suspended.

The EFA said in a statement that al-Masry's football activities would be suspended through the 2012-2013 season. The club would be re-instated to the Premier League, the country's top competition, in the 2013-2014 season.

During the February pitch invasion, steel doors at the stadium were bolted shut, trapping fans trying to escape from the stands and dozens were crushed to death.

Many fans blamed the government for failing to send enough police to the stadium, given the tense build-up to the match, and many believe the violence was started by hired thugs. At least 1,000 people were injured.

Prosecutors referred 75 people, including nine security officials in Port Said, to the criminal court on March 15 to face trial over the violence.

Fans of al-Ahly, meanwhile, contend that the sanctions against al-Masry are not harsh enough, and have called for a protest to be held outside the EFA's offices on Sunday.


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