Egyptian football pitches have been virtually abandoned since 1 February, when over 70 Ahly fans were killed in Port Said
after the final whistle of a league game.
While criminal investigations are still ongoing, the Egyptian Football Association’s elected board, under the presidency of Samir Zaher, had no choice but to resign, leaving a caretaker board, under Anwar Saleh, to make a hard decision.
After weeks of speculations, Saleh revealed that the EFA has decided not to resume the Egyptian Premier League due to security concerns. A friendly tournament will be held instead, leaving thousands involved in the business and millions of fans to do without football in the year of Egypt’s first real democratic presidential election.
The sports industry is one of the many fields that has been negatively affected during the transitional period under the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), who took over power when former president Hosni Mubarak stepped down last year.
Ahram Online have chosen some of the reactions, announced through Egyptian media, on the league’s cancelation.
EFA Marketing Manager Amr Wahbi:
“Although the season’s cancelation is necessary, the football business will lose over LE1.2 billion.”
Ahly football director Sayed Abdel-Hafiz:
“It’s good that the season is canceled but we will never stop demanding the martyrs’ rights. We didn’t make a decision regarding the friendly tournament yet but we will, surely, compete in the Africa championship and we will play our home matches in Egypt in front of our fans.”
Zamalek president Mamdouh Abbas:
“I support the league’s cancellation due to the hard times Egypt is enduring. We will keep our players, we will neither sell nor loan out anyone, and we are determined to continue our campaign in the African Champions League.”
Haras El-Hodoud coach Tarek El-Ashry:
“I am not against the league’s cancellation but I want to know: will we, as the current leaders, be considered the league champions? Will we take part in the upcoming edition of the Confederation of African Football Champions League?”
Tala El-Geish coach Farouk Gaafar:
“Who took the decision to cancel the league season? People sitting in cafes could make a better decision. Football is a big business and cancelling the competition will cost clubs, players, media and all the people involved a lot of money.”
Maqassa coach Tarek Yehia:
“No need for the friendly tournament; and I consider Haras El-Hodoud the league champions.”
El-Entag El-Harby coach Mohamed Helmy:
“No football activities should resume before the criminals of the Port Said massacre are punished.”
Smouha president Mohamed Farag Amer:
“The league cancelation is a disappointing decision but we will not oppose it.”
Itthad of Alexandria president Effat El-Sadat:
“The friendly tournament will be important for the players to keep their form, especially the international ones.”
Egyptian hardcore football fans such as Ahly’s Ultras Ahlawy and Zamalek’s Ultras White Knights, who played a key role in defending Tahrir Square during the January revolution, did not devote much attention to the halting of the league. They instead focus on organising protests demanding justice and rights, not only for the football martyrs, but for all of the revolution’s martyrs.
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