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250 injured in Jordanian, Palestinian soccer fans clash

Amman, Jordan:  Fans of rival Jordanian soccer teams clashed after a match, injuring 250 people in violence that pointed to the deep divisions between the nation's native Bedouin clans and its Palestinians. Most of the
PTI December 12, 2010 10:36 IST
PTI
Amman, Jordan:  Fans of rival Jordanian soccer teams clashed after a match, injuring 250 people in violence that pointed to the deep divisions between the nation's native Bedouin clans and its Palestinians.

Most of the injuries occurred when a large metal fence separating spectators from the playing field in the Amman stadium collapsed during Friday night's unrest between fans of national teams Wehdat and Faisali, said police spokesman Col. Ahmed Abu-Hamad. Thirty policemen were among the injured, he said.



There is a long history of violence between supporters of the two teams, stemming in part from the decades of tension with Jordan's large Palestinian population, which includes an estimated 1.8 million refugees displaced after Israel's 1948 creation and their descendants.Most of Faisali's players and fans are from native Jordanian Bedouin tribes. Most of Wehdat's players and fans are Palestinian.

Although most of Jordan's Palestinians -- excluding natives of the Gaza Strip -- carry Jordanian passports and enjoy citizenship rights unmatched by other Arab host governments, many of them complain that they are barred from taking up security and army posts or holding other top positions in the Jordanian government.
Native Jordanians feel the Palestinian refugees have no allegiance to the country.

In a match last year between the same teams, Faisali fans chanted slogans deriding the Palestinian origin of King Abdullah II's wife, Queen Rania, and their son Crown Prince Hussein -- an episode that even got a mention in one of the U.S. diplomatic memos released by the WikiLeaks website.

In the document, American diplomats said they were "puzzled" by the king's failure to respond to the "verbal attack on his family."On Saturday, police questioned a dozen people suspected of sparking the clashes.The violence broke out after Wehdat beat Faisali 1-0 in a crucial qualifying game for the national league.

Faisali's supporters left the stadium first and began hurling bottles and stones at Wehdat's supporters from outside the stadium, triggering a stampede, said witness Ali Qasrawi.Qasrawi, who was at the match, said police sealed off the stadium's exits, trapping Wehdat supporters inside, and fired tear gas.

"That triggered the collapse of the large metal fence, which fell on people and police forces under it," he said.Abu-Hamad, the police spokesman, said the injured were taken to a hospital, some with serious injuries to the head and body. He declined to provide other details.AP