The new Egyptian sports minister, El-Amry Farouk, said on Friday his priority is to resume football activities in the country and allow fans back into stadiums.
Domestic football has been suspended since February’s infamous Port Said Stadium disaster, which left dozens dead and hundreds injured following a pitch invasion by Masry supporters in an Egyptian Premier League game against Cairo giants Ahly.
Cairo duo Ahly and Zamalek and the Egyptian national team have had to play their continental games behind closed doors since then, with the interior ministry refusing to secure any game unless 10 safety requirements were met by the cash-strapped clubs.
“Football resumption will be my priority in the coming period,” former Ahly board member Farouk, who is part of the Cabinet of new Prime Minister Hisham Qandil, told Al-Ahram’s daily newspaper.
“I’m considering allowing fans back to the stands, given the financial losses clubs have incurred during the past period -- due to the absence of fans.
“I’m trying to coordinate with all the relevant authorities to settle on the best possible way to resume football and allow fan attendance. The fans usually breathe life into football matches.
“We saw how Ahly, Zamalek and the Egyptian national team were affected because they had to play behind closed doors,” Farouk added.
Egypt stunningly failed to qualify for next year’s African Nations Cup finals in South Africa following a 4-3 aggregate defeat by minnows Central Africa in the qualifiers, missing out on a tournament they won a record seven times.
Zamalek have made a very poor start to their African Champions League group-stage campaign, losing their first three Group B matches against Ahly, Ghana’s Berekum Chelsea and TP Mazembe of the DR Congo.
Ahly, the record Champions League winners with six titles under their belt, were the only survivors, however, as they garnered maximum nine points from three games in Africa’s premier club competition.
The Egyptian Football Association is seeking to start the new domestic league later this month but is yet to get the consent of the interior ministry, which fear it could be vilified once again if more troubles occurred in football matches.
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