Egyptian MPs hear proposals for lifting 5-year-old ban on fans at domestic football matches

Ahram Online , Monday 9 Oct 2017

Egypt fans
Egypt fans display banners during the 2-1 World Cup qualifying victory over Congo at Alexandria's Borg El-Arab Stadium on 8 October, 2017 (Reuters)

Egyptian MPs heard proposals to end the five-year ban on crowds at domestic football matches during Monday's session, a day after the national team qualified for the 2018 World Cup at a match attended by tens of thousands of orderly fans in Alexandria, Arabic Ahram news website reported.

Hany Abaza, an MP representing the liberal Wafd Party, and other MPs called on authorities to allow audiences back to the stands.

"We need the audience to come back again, everyone can see that that there is no acts of violations or destruction," adding that players lack inspiration when they play without fans.

Football spectators have been banned from attending domestic league games since February 2012 when 72 Ahly fans were killed at the end of a regular league game in the Port Said Stadium massacre.

The crowd ban was briefly lifted in January 2015 but immediately reimposed after 20 Zamalek fans died in a stampede after police used teargas to disperse crowds of fans lined up to attend a regular league game.

The 2017-2018 domestic league started in September without fans.

In the past five years, authorities have allowed a limited number of fans - between 5,000 and 10,000 on average - to African championship games per FIFA rules.

Last night, reports indicated authorities allowed more than 60,000 fans to attend the national team game against Congo in Borg El-Arab stadium in Alexandria.

The victory match went without incident and most game presenters commended the audience for exemplary cheering.

Meanwhile, MP Mohamed El-Husseiny, the head of local governance committee, advocated for the release of imprisoned members of ultras groups to mend relationships between fans and authorities.

Egypt's security forces have frequently clashed in recent years with hardcore football fans — known as Ultras, with many fans arrested and tried on various charges.

In May 2015, an Egyptian court banned ultras fan clubs.

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