World

Head of Egypt soccer team rules out police role in deaths of 22 fans in clashes, stampede

  • Map locates site of soccer match violence near Cairo, Egypt; 2c x 3 inches; 96.3 mm x 76 mm;

    Map locates site of soccer match violence near Cairo, Egypt; 2c x 3 inches; 96.3 mm x 76 mm;  (The Associated Press)

  • An Ultras Al-Ahly soccer fan, left, and an Ultras White Knights soccer fan, right, pray for people who were killed on Sunday from a riot outside the Air Defense Stadium, at Cairo University in Egypt, Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. Egypt's Cabinet has indefinitely suspended the national soccer league after more than 20 fans were killed in a stampede and clashes with police outside the Cairo stadium. (AP Photo/Roger Anis, El Shorouk Newspaper) EGYPT OUT

    An Ultras Al-Ahly soccer fan, left, and an Ultras White Knights soccer fan, right, pray for people who were killed on Sunday from a riot outside the Air Defense Stadium, at Cairo University in Egypt, Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. Egypt's Cabinet has indefinitely suspended the national soccer league after more than 20 fans were killed in a stampede and clashes with police outside the Cairo stadium. (AP Photo/Roger Anis, El Shorouk Newspaper) EGYPT OUT  (The Associated Press)

  • Egyptian friends and relatives of soccer fans who were killed in a riot on Sunday, wait outside Zeinhom morgue, in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. Egypt's Cabinet has indefinitely suspended the national soccer league after more than 20 fans were killed in a stampede and clashes with police outside the Cairo stadium. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)

    Egyptian friends and relatives of soccer fans who were killed in a riot on Sunday, wait outside Zeinhom morgue, in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. Egypt's Cabinet has indefinitely suspended the national soccer league after more than 20 fans were killed in a stampede and clashes with police outside the Cairo stadium. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)  (The Associated Press)

The head of Egypt's second largest soccer team says he doesn't blame police for deaths of 22 fans during clashes and a stampede in front of a Cairo stadium.

Mortada Mansour, head of the Zamalek team, told a private Egyptian TV station that police did not open fire on fans, and that Sunday's violence was "orchestrated" to foil upcoming parliamentary elections.

Mansour, a well-known lawyer, is a staunch supporter of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the former army chief who has waged a sweeping crackdown on dissent since the military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.

Authorities say the violence began when hundreds of hard-core Zamalek fans known as Ultras White Knights tried to force their way into the stadium to attend a soccer match without tickets.