Riots erupted in Paris and Marseille yesterday after Algeria’s soccer team beat Egypt 1-0 in Kartoum, Sudan, in a World Cup 2010 qualifying playoff match.
Football fans battled with police, torched cars in cities across France and looted a supermarket.
Around 150 people were arrested in the trouble that flared late Wednesday after thousands of Algeria fans took to the streets to celebrate the team’s triumph that secured it a spot at the 2010 tournament in South Africa, according to AP reports.
France has a large community of Algerian origin and about 12,000 of them turned out on the Champs Elysees in Paris to fete their team’s win.
Police intervened when some revellers began throwing bottles and other projectiles and smashing shop windows, a police spokesman said.
Similar violent scenes took place in Marseille in the south, Lyon in the centre-east as well as in some northern towns, and youths set fire to around 150 vehicles in cities across the country.
Trouble-makers burst into a supermarket in Vaulx-en-Velin in the Lyon suburbs and made off with electronic goods and telephones, police said.
Six police officers were injured in the incidents.
Algerian soccer fans in Paris Wednesday night (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
The game Wedenesday between the Egyptian and Algerian teams had been preceded by simmering tensions following an earlier match in Cairo on Saturday.
A bus carrying the Alerian team in Cairo was attacked by a crowd hurling stones before the game.
Algeria fielded a team in Cairo on Saturday which included at least two players wearing head bandages.
Algeria lost 2-0 to Egypt setting up the decisive playoff match which took place in Kartoum, Sudan, on Wednesday.
Wire services reported dozens of people injured in Egyptian-Algerian skirmishes following the earlier game on Saturday.
Buses were commandeered, and mobs ran screaming through the streets in Cairo.
According to an article by Time Magazine’s Abigail Hauslohner, Downtown Cairo was one part circus, two parts anarchy following the game.
Traffic lights lay toppled and blinking, and young people danced on buses.
On Monday, according to AP reports, Algerian fans ransacked an Egypt Air office in Algiers, setting furniture on fire.
Police arrest a man in Paris on Wednesday (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Sudanese police were reportedly on high alert before Wednesday’s game in Khartoum, and authorities were careful to allot an equal number of seats to fans from both teams, leaving an additional 15% of the stadium’s seats for Sudanese, so as to create a buffer zone.
Algeria won the game 1-0 on Wednesday to advance to the final round.
Soccer matches between Egypt and Algeria have incited violence before.
A 1989 match was followed by riots in which an Egyptian team doctor lost an eye and Interpol issued an arrest warrant for an Algerian player.
Some analytst cite deeply rooted historical animosity between Egypt and Algeria, suggesting that could be partly to blame for the tension and violence
Elsewhere in the soccer world, a referee’s unpopular decision last weekend sparked riots and looting and led to the arrest of 16 in the Solomon Islands.
A football administration building was burnt, three cars had their windows smashed, a fire truck was attacked, and three police officers were hit by rocks,” according to an article in the Brisbane Times.