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Egypt PM: No intention to cancel football season but security comes first

Egypt does not intend to cancel the football season but fans will definitely be banned, says prime minister

Eslam Omar , Sunday 22 Feb 2015
Egypt
Egypt's Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab talks during a press conference (Photo courtesy of the offical Egyptian Cabinet Facebook page)
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Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab has announced that there is no intention yet to cancel the current season of the Egyptian Premier League, despite the Cairo Air Defence Stadium disaster.

"Frankly, I hope the league returns but it must resume in a secure and safe atmosphere," Mahlab told an Egyptian TV programme on Saturday.

The competition has been suspended since 8 February when 20 Zamalek supporters were killed after police used teargas to disperse crowds attempting to enter Cairo’s Air Defence stadium ahead of a match with ENPPI.

"We will discuss this subject next week in the cabinet. Our priority is to balance the importance of the league's return with the safety of footballers," Mahlab added.

The cabinet was due to decide on the matter last Wednesday but eventually opted to put future of football discussions on hold, focusing on more pressing issues such as the country's airstrikes on Islamic State group in Libya after 20 Egyptian Christians were beheaded by the militants.

"There is no intention to cancel the competition this season but security is a must-accomplished element first," he added.

Security issues have been paired with football in the country for the last three years since February 2012 when 72 Ahly fans were killed after being attacked by rivals Masry fans amid lack of security in Port Said stadium.

"If the league resumes, it will be definitely without fans at stadiums," Mahlab declared.

Fans had been banned from stadiums since the Port Said disaster but Zamalek-ENPPI was the first match to allow them in an attempt for a gradual return to full attendance.

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