Ultras White Knights, Cairo giants Zamalek's hardcore supporters, are celebrating today after 20 of their members were released from prison. The 20 stood accused of inciting the violent scenes witnessed during the club's African Champions League match against Tunisian Club Africain last month. The game was called off late in injury time after hundreds of angry fans invaded the Cairo Stadium pitch, attacking the Tunisian players and the match referee.
The lawyer for coaching twins Hossam and Ibrahim Hassan, Yasser El-Shahat, defended the fans, using video footage to prove that they were arrested in the stands not the pitch. As such, they could not have been responsible for the riots.
The crowd violence triggered official and public communications between the two Arab countries. Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf apologised to his Tunisian counterpart while hundreds of Egyptians expressed sorrow outside the Tunisian embassy in Cairo and on internet forums.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) punished the Egyptian club with a $80,000 fine and ordered them to play two continental games behind closed doors.
Following the crowd trouble, the Ministry of Interior hesitated before confirming that they will secure the domestic competitions’ matches after a long forced stoppage in the wake of the country’s revolution.
The Ultras White Knights are reportedly set to dissolve with members attending today’s Premier League match against Ismaily as individual supporters without displaying any of the firm’s logos or t-shirts.
Zamalek are on top of the Egyptian Premier League table with 39 points, five ahead of Ismaily in second place and six of their archrivals Ahly, who lie third.