Wednesday,26 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1235, (26 February - 4 March 2015)
Wednesday,26 September, 2018
Issue 1235, (26 February - 4 March 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Volleyball fills the void

While most sports activities in the country were disrupted after 19 football fans at a league game were killed in a stampede earlier this month, volleyball soldiered on. Mohamed Abdel-Razek reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

Cairo International Stadium is hosting 33 Arab club volleyball champions who have helped fill the gap left by the football freeze in the country.

While the football league was suspended in the wake of the 8 February tragedy, in which ticketless fans fought with police to get into the Air Defence Stadium, the president of the Egyptian Volleyball Federation Fouad Abdel-Salam decided to play but keep fans away from the stands since day one of the Arab Volleyball Club Championship, except for officials and members of the teams participating, as well as some invited youngsters.

It was not only the absence of fans that affected the tournament’s popularity but also the withdrawal of some well known teams which decided not to take part for various reasons. They included Al-Shorta Al-Iraqi (Iraq), Ahli (Egypt), Al-Shabab (United Arab Emirates), Al-Sadaaka (Palestine), Al-Hilal (Saudi Arabia), Tanga (Morocco), Al-Zahraa (Lebanon), and the biggest winner of them all, with seven titles, CS Sfaxien from Tunisia, as well as the defending champions of 2014, Espérance Sportive de Tunis.

Ahli, six-time winner of the Arab championship, decided not to take part to prevent their players from getting injured before the start of the African Championship on 5 March, according to the team’s coach Ibrahim Fakhreddin. 

The President of the Arab Volleyball Association Sheikh Ali Bin Eissa Bin Rashed Al-Khalifa arrived in Egypt earlier last week to make sure he witnesses the tournament from the start.

Eighteen teams instead of the originally scheduled 25 went into action on 16 February, with only one team representing Egypt, Talaa Al-Geish. The Egyptian team started off well, winning the first three matches in the group stage against Al-Wehda (Saudi Arabia) 3/0, Kazma (Kuwait) 3/1, and Al-Ahly (Bahrain) 3/0, reaching the semi-final single-handedly to meet Gas Al-Ganoub (Iraq).

Al-Geish will hope to keep pushing towards the final match to win the championship for the first time in the club’s history, while capturing the $15,000 prize. 

Other teams showed solid performances, including Sahm (Oman), Dar Klyb (United Arab Emirates), Gas Al-Ganoub, and Wadi Mousa (Jordan). Based on their performances so far, Wadi Mousa could face Al-Geish in the final on Thursday 26 February. The final was scheduled to be played after the Al-Ahram Weekly went to press.

The judges committee of the tournament, led by Beshie Al-Olwan, decided to annul the final result of the game previously played between Dar Klyb and Al-Arabi after the latter broke the rules by playing three foreign players during the game instead of two.

The end result was reversed to 3/0 in favour of Dar Klyb and a $3,000 fine for Al-Arabi. Accordingly. Dar Klyb qualifies to the semi-final.

The Arab Volleyball Club Championship might encourage the football league to resume. Reports suggest the ministries of interior and youth and sports are willing to resume the soccer league but without fans in attendance.

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