Egypt FA not ready to lift crowd ban on domestic football

Mahmoud Elassal , Sunday 10 Apr 2016

Egypt's crowd ban for domestic football games is to remain in place despite live audience at African League games, according to the EFA head

Zamalek fans
CAF African Champions League - Egypt's Zamalek v Algeria's Mouloudia Olympique Bejaia - Petro Sport stadium, Cairo, Egypt - 9/4/2016 - Egypt's Zamalek fans cheer before the start of the game (Photo: Reuters)

The head of the Competitions Committee of the Egypt Football Association Amer Hussein says that the country's live-audience ban for domestic football games would remain in place after what he described as the poor organisation displayed during Saturday's Zamalek game.

Zamalek were finally boosted by heavy fan support at home for the first time in months as they claimed a 2-0 home victory over Algeria's MO Bejaia to move close to a place in the African Champions League group stage on Saturday.

Thousands of supporters, many of whom belonged to hardcore fan group Ultras White Knights, took their seats in the northern stands of Cairo's Petrosport Stadium and feverishly cheered on Zamalek, who did not let them down with a convincing performance in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16.  

"It was expected that only 2,500 supporters would attend the game, but we were surprised when 8,000 people or more were in attendance," Hussein told a television programme after the game.

"The high number of fans present was due to poor organisation at the entrance to the stadium."

Football spectators have been banned in Egyptian stadiums since February 2012 when 72 Ahly fans were killed during a regular league game in the Port Said Stadium massacre.

In February 2015, the ban was lifted but immediately re-imposed after 20 Zamalek fans died in a stampede as police used teargas to disperse crowds of fans lined up to attend a regular league game at the Cairo Air Defence Stadium.

"League games are completely different from national team and African games," said Hussein.

"It's preferred to keep the crowd ban on the domestic games as I am not optimistic by the [return of this large number of fans]," he said, adding that "we can only lift the crowd ban on African [League] games."

The EFA head also said that since "fans entered the game without tickets, Zamalek could be fined."

"There were no inspections for fans before entering the stadium, so there is still a threat."

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