Egypt stars launch football anti-fanaticism campaign

Hatem Maher, Friday 10 Jun 2011

Egypt stars, including Mohamed Zidan and Mohamed Abou-Treika, call for more tolerance as tensions grow in the football-mad country

Fan riots

A handful of high-profile Egyptian players launched an anti-fanaticism campaign to allay growing tensions in domestic football.

The likes of Egypt skipper Ahmed Hassan, Borussia Dortmund striker Mohamed Zidan, Ahly defender Wael Gomaa and playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika released a 51-second video on YouTube, calling on fans to show more tolerance following the recent unfortunate incidents on and off the pitch.

Several Egyptian Premier League games have been disrupted by continued fan rioting since the competition resumed following January’s revolution, which toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.

While many expected football’s die-hard fans to cool their passions following the revolution’s success, they actually took a turn for the worse, thanks to the notable absence of police forces in the wake of Mubarak’s departure.

“We need to become united following 25 January,” Ismaily’s Egyptian international midfielder Hosni Abd-Rabou pleaded in the video.

“I hope we make another revolution, but this time it should be aimed against what is happening now. We need to correct that situation,” Abou-Treika, who is widely praised for being a mild-mannered player, added.

The video also featured Zamalek’s controversial forward Mahmoud Abdel-Razek ‘Shikabala’, who has come in for fierce criticism lately with media blaming him for igniting tensions between the fans of his club and the supporters of bitter rivals Ahly.

Shikabala, the league’s top scorer with 13 goals, was videoed chanting an anti-Ahly song on several occasions this season.

“People should be aware that the players are close friends off the pitch,” he said.

Zamalek’s African Champions League game against Tunisia’s Club Africain, which was played at Cairo Stadium in April, was infamously abandoned in stoppage time after thousands of fans invaded the pitch.

The build up to Ahly’s league game against Masry was also marred by a free-for-all in Port Said city between supporters of both sides, few hours before kick-off.

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