Ultras Ahlawy display a tifo that read "football is for fans" before Ahly's CAF Confederation Cup final against Ivory Coast's Sewe Sport in Cairo (Photo: Shereen Abd El-Azeem)
Ultras Ahlawy, one of Egypt’s most prominent fan groups, said on Friday it would defy a crowd ban and attend Ahly’s upcoming Egyptian Premier League games after growing increasingly frustrated with the status quo.
The ardent supporters were allowed to enter the Cairo Stadium for the first time since February when Ahly scored at the death to defeat Ivory Coast’s Sewe Sport 1-0 and win the African Confederation Cup last Saturday.
Egyptian media is usually hostile to such fan groups but, in a rare move, television presenters and sports pundits were full of praise of Ultras Ahlawy for creating a feverish atmosphere and egging on their team until the last minute of an exciting affair.
“In the Confederation Cup final, the behavior of the fans hasn’t changed a bit. We have always behaved like that and those who were attacking us in the past are applauding us now, but we don’t care,” Ultras Ahlawy said on their Facebook page.
“Every match for the Egyptian national team is attended by some 50,000 supporters and is secured by the interior ministry. Roughly the same number of supporters attended the game against Sewe Sport but the league games are still being played at empty stadiums.”
The passionate supporters stole the show in the first half against Sewe Sport after displaying a tifo that read "football is for fans", in a reference to an intermittent crowd ban that has been in place since the 2012 Port Said tragedy that left over 70 Ahly fans dead.
Tifo is a football term that refers to an organised effort by fans to support a team through the use of choreography and signs.
The fans, who stormed the stadium early in the morning in defiance of the tight restrictions put by security forces, also set off many firecrackers before kick-off, sending smoke billowing around the venue.
“The fans have every right to be present in stadiums and cheer on their teams. Therefore, Ultras Ahlawy group has decided to be present in the upcoming league games, starting with [Monday’s] match against Haras El-Hodoud,” the statement added.
“We will be at Cairo Stadium to support our team even if we remained separated by a fence. We will no longer watch our team on television.”
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