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Egypt coach Bradley denies blaming military for Port Said fiasco

National team's American coach says his recent comments to BBC, in which he held SCAF responsible for Port Said violence, were taken out of context

Hatem Maher, Friday 30 Mar 2012
Bob Bradley
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Egypt’s American boss Bob Bradley denied having blamed Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) for last month's Port Said football tragedy that left more than 70 fans dead and hundreds injured.

Some local football pundits launched a scathing attack on Bradley after he implied in an interview with the BBC that the SCAF was responsible for Egypt’s worst-ever football disaster, which occurred when thousands of Masry fans stormed the pitch following a league match against rivals Ahly.

Former Egypt coach Mohsen Saleh went so far as to accuse Bradley of being part of a "conspiracy" orchestrated by American NGOs operating in Egypt.

"It's clear that this was not a typical case of fan violence," Bradley, who took over Egypt's national team following the departure of Hassan Shehata, told the BBC last week. "There are camera reports that the gate was shut; one of the first things you see is that police are doing nothing.

"I hear opinions from people who say the military... is almost trying to say, 'Fine, you want us out? Then this is what it's gonna be like without us.'

"When you read stuff like this, then you see what took place, then you read some of the inside reports from Masry players who did not even recognise supposed Masry fans... when you start piecing all this together, then, as everybody knows, this was not just fan violence."

Speaking to reporters following Egypt’s late 2-1 friendly victory over Uganda in Sudan on Thursday, Bradley said his comments had been taken out of context.

"Those who attacked me focused on a few seconds of the interview, ignoring the rest of it," said the 54-year-old coach.

"This isn't my opinion. I just meant that I hear conflicting opinions from people about the state of the country. I love Egypt and its people, and I will continue to work here."

Bradley, who has remained largely apolitical since arriving in Egypt last year, is burdened with the task of ending the national team's lengthy World Cup drought and steering them to 2014 finals in Brazil.

He is currently preparing the Pharaohs for four matches in June in the World Cup and African Nations Cup qualifiers.

Egypt are holding successive training camps to make up for the lack of domestic football activity following the temporary suspension of the Premier League in the wake of the carnage in Port Said.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter:@AO Sports)

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