Last Update 20:17
Thursday, 21 November 2019

Ahly refuses to play in the Premier League before facing Zamalek, derby crisis escalates

The Egyptian Football Association announced the Cairo derby was put off for security reasons

Mahmoud Sheleib, Thursday 17 Oct 2019
President of Al Ahly Sporting Club Mahmoud El Khatib (Al-Ahram)
President of Al Ahly Sporting Club Mahmoud El Khatib (Al-Ahram)
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Ahly refused on Thursday to play in the Premier League before playing their postponed match against Zamalek, put off upon the request of the authorities, adding more pressures in the ongoing crisis.

The Cairo derby was scheduled for next Saturday, but a decision by the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) late Tuesday moved the game to a yet to be determined date and venue. The EFA decision caused the outcry of several clubs and officials due to the disruption of the competition.

In a statement issued on their official website on Thursday, the Cairo Giants stressed their respect of security instructions which delayed the game in the fourth round of the Egyptian Premier League.

"We respect the security authorities and their role in securing football matches for Egyptian clubs and national teams, especially after their notable success in organising the recent Africa Cup of Nations hosted by Egypt last June, which witnessed the participation of 24 countries with the presence of thousands of fans without any problems, in addition to Egyptian clubs' participation in continental competitions with massive numbers of fans," read  the Ahly statement.

"For these reasons the majority of the Egyptian Premier League teams didn't accept the EFA's decision to postpone the Cairo derby, scheduled for Saturday due to security instructions, especially that there were no objections to hold the game at Borg El-Arab Stadium in Alexandria without fans, where many games with large numbers of fans were played," the statement added.

Ahly revealed that its board waited after receiving the EFA postponement letter to discuss the different angels of the decision.
 
"Ahly respects the security aspect of the decision, but we refuse the fact that some people are taking advantage of it to sort out the chaos in football competitions, and not ensuring equality between competitions, just like what happened in the past season.

"So Ahly will not play any matches in the Egyptian Premier League before playing their postponed game against Zamalek, and the new date must respond to the principle of equal opportunities between the two clubs in light of their local and African participation," the Ahly statement confirmed.

EFA official Mohamed Fadl said on Wednesday that the association was forced to postpone the game upon the request of Egyptian security authorities, stressing that the EFA had no intention to make any modifications in the Egyptian League fixtures.

Zamalek president quickly reacted to the EFA announcement, saying the club respected the security instructions, but rejected the EFA decision to play the Arab Contractors' match instead.

The Arab Contractors officials retracted their criticism of the EFA decision to change the date of their game against Zamalek, announcing they will play the game as scheduled "for the nation's best interest."

Many other teams requested to postpone their league matches after the EFA announcement, such as Smouha, that officially requested the EFA to delay their game against the Pyramids, scheduled for Thursday.

Gouna sent an official letter to the EFA requesting to delay their game against FC Masr, scheduled for Thursday for the same reason. Gouna are supposed to host Ahly in the league's fifth round on 23 October.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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