Friday,15 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1372, (7 - 13 December 2017)
Friday,15 December, 2017
Issue 1372, (7 - 13 December 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Player becomes president

Ahly Club has a new head for the next four years

Al-Khatib
Al-Khatib

The Ahly Club elections were unlike any other that were held during the past weeks in other clubs in Egypt, reports Inas Mazhar. It was the first time in Ahly’s history that more than 35,000 members voted for their new board in what was described as the “elections of the century of the club”.

The elections were sort of a football match in which its results were unpredictable. Only the pitch decides the winner and this is what happened in these elections. Until voting day, no one could predict the winning board or its leader: the current president, then Mahmoud Taher, or his opponent, the legendary footballer Mahmoud Al-Khatib. It was the ballot box that determined the winner: it was Al-Khatib and his board.

Al-Khatib, a former vice-president of the club, collected 20,958 votes to 13,182 for Taher, a huge margin considering how heated the campaign was. Many observers had called the elections too close to call.

Exactly 36,939 club members voted from a total membership of 138,539. There were 2,746 invalid votes.

The results were announced the day of the elections, Thursday 30 November, to be precise by the early hours of the following day.

The election ‘match’ featured capitalism versus popularity: Taher with all his wealth as a businessman and his contribution to the club in the past four years, versus Al-Khatib with all his football history as a player, administrator and club official -- indeed a rich history. So, it was Al-Khatib’s popularity that won in the end.

The Ahly Club elections were also compared to the presidential elections, in some places maybe bigger. Luckily for Egyptians, it was an official day off marking the Prophet’s birth. The rush of tens of thousands of fans to the club in Gezira caused a huge traffic jam in the downtown area of Cairo. Security officials were on alert since the day before and had to close all streets leading to the club because of the stampede.

The club’s members and voters had to park a good distance away and walk to the club. Security officials dedicated the Tahrir parking lot, the Opera House and other downtown sites to members to park and then take a shuttle bus to the club. But when the buses themselves were unable to reach the club, people had to walk. Some even illegally parked on the famous 6 October Bridge. Voters stood for long queues stretching kilometres in order to reach the club’s main gate. And when the club became full to the brink, some people fainted in the voting tent because of the crush, forcing the club’s security to seal off the tent’s entrance for some time.

On Saturday, Ahly’s new board was in the main tribune of Cairo Stadium watching the Ahly football team play a league game against ENPPI. Ahly won 4-1.

The new board is now looking forward to its first meeting during which they will discuss the future of the club in the coming years.

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