Sunday,22 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1238, (19 - 25 March 2015)
Sunday,22 October, 2017
Issue 1238, (19 - 25 March 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Soccer could be on the rebound

Football in Egypt could make a comeback but without spectators. Mohamed Abdel-Razek reports

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Minister of Youth and Sports Khaled Abdel-Aziz has made it clear that he is in “serious negotiations” with Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb and Minister of Interior Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar over resuming the football league following last month’s stampede which killed 19 supporters.

In a news conference, Abdel-Aziz said that they, as government officials, had nothing to hide and that everything was clear to the public and the media. "I fully understand how important it is to bring back the most popular sport in Egypt back to life, but we need to do it the right way this time," Abdel-Aziz added.

Football in the country was brought to a halt on 8 February when 19 Zamalek fans were killed outside the Air Defence Stadium just before a league game. Ticket-less fans had wanted to enter the stadium by force. They were denied entry by police firing tear gas.

Some fans got caught inside an iron cordon leading to one gate, which started a stampede. Most fans died of asphyxiation.

It was the second deadly soccer incident in Egypt following the 2012 football riot which killed 72 people, mainly Ahly supporters, following a domestic match with Port Said.

The Ahly tragedy also happened in February, making the month doubly painful.

Some fans want football games to remain suspended until after an investigation into the Air Defence tragedy is completed and those responsible are held accountable.

The Football Association along with the sports community is urging officials to bring back football for the good of the national teams.

There was no doubt that if the league does resume, fans would not be permitted to attend matches, as was mostly the case following Port Said.

"I really sensed a lot of co-operation from both the prime minister and the minister of interior. We will reach a decision soon in the upcoming days," Abdel-Aziz said.

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