ENPPI coach El Ashry unaware of tragedy

ENPPI coach Tarek El Ashry has insisted that both sides would have refused to play Sunday's game against Zamalek if they had known about the tragedy that was unfolding outside the Air Defense Stadium.

At least 20 people are reported to have died after fans and police clashed in Cairo ahead of the match between the top two sides in the Egyptian Premier League.

All football league matches in Egypt have been suspended until further notice following the trouble, which is said to have seen supporters crushed as they attempted to enter the stadium, with tear gas being fired by police.

The game went ahead - and finished in a 1-1 draw - despite the chaos, but El Ashry revealed he was unaware of the scale of the trouble that had occured.

He said: "It is such a shame to lose that number of supporters' lives at the back of a football match. I would like to express my sympathy for the losses and I would like to express my deep sadness. 

"I also would like to confirm that if we've been told about any of what has happened, both us and Zamalek we wouldn't play. We didn't know anything at all."

Zamalek Interim Manager Mohamed Salah revealed that he and his squad arrived at the match in armoured cars and were given masks to wear due to the tear gas.

The official death toll has not been confirmed, with various reports of how many lost their lives on what was another dark day for Egyptian football.

Three years ago the league was also suspended after 74 fans were killed following riots at a fixture in Port Said.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter sent a letter of condolence to Egyptian Football Association president Mohamed Gamal, vowing to assist in any way possible.

Blatter wrote: "I would like to express my deepest condolences to the Egyptian football community for the tragic events that occurred at last night's match in Cairo between Zamalek and ENPPI.

"My thoughts and sympathies are with the families of all those who have lost their lives yesterday evening. It is so sad that a game of football, which should be the scene of joy and positive emotions, should be overshadowed in this way.

"We await the results of the investigation into this tragedy and are ready to provide the Egyptian Football Association with any support they may need in dealing with the aftermath of this event."