Egypt football season opens after riots

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CAIRO. February 3. KAZINFORM In a country obsessed with its premier sport, Egypt's football season kicks off Saturday to heavy anticipation -- but without any fans in the stands.

Instead of the roars of raucous crowds, players take the pitch to the relative silence of secure military stadiums.

Saturday's matches are the first since a gruesome riot at a football match last year that left 74 dead and 1,000 injured.

Dubbed the "massacre at Port Said," the riot in February 2012 broke out after Port Said-based Al-Masry defeated Cairo's Al-Ahly, 3-1.

Fans from both sides bashed one another with rocks and chairs, and many of those who died fell from the bleachers while others suffocated.

While the football rivalries between the cities have been a mainstay, recent political upheaval has only fueled the fire.

Last week, a judge issued death sentences for 21 Port Said residents for their roles in the riot.

Those verdicts incensed Port Said residents who blame security officials -- not fans -- for the mass tragedy, Kazinform refers to CNN.

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