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Plans to kick-start Egyptian League still on despite attack, says minister

Egyptian Sports Minister El-Amry Farouk insists domestic football activity will be resumed as planned, despite Ultras Ahlawy attack on Egyptian FA headquarters

Hatem Maher, Wednesday 5 Sep 2012
Plans to kick-start Egyptian League still on despite attack, says minister
File photo: Egyptian sports minister El-Amry Farouk (Photo: AL-Ahram)
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Egypt’s sports minister El-Amry Farouk said on Wednesday that the Ultras Ahlawy attack on the Egyptian Football Association (EFA)'s headquarters would not hamper plans to start the Egyptian Premier League later this month.

The ardent group of Ahly supporters, angry at football resumption because of what they see as the authorities’ reluctance to punish the culprits of February's Port Said stadium disaster, hurled firecrackers at the EFA headquarters in the Gezira district of Cairo before storming it.

They also stole some trophies as their dispute with authorities over their handling of the Port Said saga turned violent.

Farouk refrained from directly blaming the Ultras Ahlawy for the attack, but stressed that the assailants would be punished although security forces failed to capture anyone so far.

"The public prosecution is conducting investigations. The attackers will be dealt with strictly and according to the law," Farouk, a former Ahly board member, said in a telephone interview with Modern Sport television channel.

"We don’t want to blame anyone because we don’t know who exactly did it, but everything will go ahead as planned. The Super Cup will be held on Sunday and will be followed by the Premier League on 17 September," he added.

"The livelihoods of many people depend on football; it’s a profession, not just a sport. Those people will never tolerate losing their jobs," said Farouk.

Wednesday’s attack came as the Egyptian Premier League draw took place Wednesday morning, defying a warning by Ultras Ahlawy. The group insisted on its official Facebook page it would not allow the resumption of domestic football unless the perpetrators of February’s Port Said disaster – which left over 70 Ahly fans dead – were brought to justice.

The tragedy occurred when thousands of Masry fans confronted Ahly's visiting contingent following the end of an ill-tempered league game on 1 February.

Masry were initially banned by the EFA for two seasons, but the sanction was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upon the coastal club’s appeal.

However, Masry eventually agreed not to take part in the league next season due to the sensitivity of the issue.

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

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