Sisi cycles in Heliopolis during tense Ahly v Zamalek football match

Ahram Online , Wednesday 22 Jul 2015

File Photo El-Sisi
File Photo: Egypt' President riding a Bike in February 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

As Egypt was watching a long-awaited match between Cairo rivals Ahly and Zamalek, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi was seen cycling in Heliopolis, Cairo.  

Tension between fans of the teams was expected ahead and during the match, which took place at Alexandria's Borg Al-Arab stadium. Social networking websites were also flooded with fiery comments from fans of both sides, fuelled by a heated exchange between the club chairmen.

The match was played without the attendance of any supporters yet was followed by Ultras and ordinary football fans all over Egypt.

Some have seen El-Sisi's cycling as a message that the match is not as important as fans have been implying.  

However, commentators following the match said that seeing the president cycling in the streets of Cairo gave a number of messages, including promoting sports and others related to security.   

A one-minute video showed El-Sisi cheered by supporters in the streets as he cycled with a convoy of bodyguards. Some passersby shouted, "President we love you."

It was El-Sisi's second cycling tour. The first time he appeared cycling was days after he stepped down as defence minister and decided to run in the 2014 presidential elections.

El-Sisi is known for his love of sports, especially cycling.

In April, El-Sisi stopped his convoy to cheer a group of young people who were participating in a marathon in Cairo.

Football, Egyptians' favorite sport, has suffered over the past few years from a tense relationship between Ultras groups and the authorities on and off the field, triggered by the hardcore fans' involvement in anti-government protests since the popular revolt of 2011.

In February, the Egyptian authorities suspended football league matches after more than 20 Zamalek fans were killed in clashes with police at a Cairo stadium, however a month later the suspension was lifted but with a crowd ban.

Despite the fact that a Cairo court ruled the activities of Ultras fan groups illegal in May, the Ultras groups are demanding the return of fans to stadiums. 

 

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