An Egyptian court today confirmed the death sentences against 21 people for taking part in a deadly soccer riot but acquitted seven police officers for their alleged role in the violence. The verdict enraged fans in Cairo, prompting them to torch the soccer federation headquarters and a police club in protest. The trial over the melee that killed 74 people after a soccer game in the city of Port Said in early 2012 has been the source of some of the worst unrest to hit Egypt in recent weeks.
While the violence has largely involved fans of rival soccer teams, the case has taken on political undercurrents because many blame the police for standing by during the violence last year. Shortly after the verdict was announced, fans of Cairo's Al-Ahly club who had gathered in the thousands outside the team's headquarters in the center of the Egyptian capital went on a rampage, torching a police club nearby and storming Egypt's soccer federation headquarters before setting it ablaze. At least five people were injured in the protests and one died from tear gas inhalation.