'Ultras Ahlawy' vow to attend Egyptian league opener despite crowd ban

Ahmed Abd El Rasoul , Wednesday 21 Oct 2015

Ultras Ahlawy say starting the new season without fans is an act to kill Egyptian football, vow to attend Thursday's league opener

Ahly fans
Ahly fans celebrate after their team scored a goal against derby rivals Zamalek during their CAF Champions League soccer match (Reuters)

Ahly's hardcore fans 'Ultras Ahlawy' stated that they would attend the Reds' Egyptian league opener against Talae El-Geish on Thursday despite the current crowd ban.

"Did you see the fans in the Super Cup? Did you feel the importance of their presence? Did you know the meaning of the slogan 'football is for fans'? Did you think of solutions for the fans to return?" the Ultras group said in a statement on their official Facebook page early on Wednesday.

Football spectators have been banned in Egypt since February 2012 when 72 Ahly fans died in the Port Said Stadium disaster. In February this year the ban was lifted but immediately re-imposed after 20 Zamalek fans died in a stampede at the Cairo Air Defence Stadium.

Cairo giants Zamalek, the current league and cup champions, and archrivals Ahly have repeatedly asked Egyptian authorities in recent months to allow fans to return. Their requests have been rejected amid fears of fresh fatal incidents.

Ahly, the holders of a record 36 Egyptian Premier League titles, failed to win a ninth successive title last season as arch-rivals Zamalek ended their 11-year drought.

Ahly won the Super Cup match against Zamalek last week in the United Arab Emirates. The match was attended by thousands of Egyptian fans without any problems.

"Football fans want to return to their ordinary place. Ahly fans attended the Orlando Pirates match and a lot of training sessions without any problems," the Ultras statement explained, referring to the limited number of fans that were exceptionally allowed to attend Ahly's loss to the South African team at the Confederation Cup semi final in Suez.

"We suggested many ideas to solve the problem but in vain. Speaking about the difficulty of allowing fans to attend matches amid the current parliamentary elections is strange. If the officials are busy with the elections they can let the football fans go to games. They can manage the matter better by themselves.

"Starting the new season without fans is an extension of killing Egyptian football, so all the group members will be gathering against Petro sport stadium to attend the match. Football is for fans," the statement concluded.

Earlier in September, Egyptian Minister of Sports Khaled Abdel-Aziz said the country would allow fans to attend any home match involving the national team in the qualifying campaigns for the 2017 African Cup of Nations and 2018 World Cup. The minister's declaration is yet to be applied.

"Fans won't be allowed to attend matches as agreed in principle with the clubs. We are currently in negotiations with security authorities to set rules for fans' return in the future," Egyptian Football Association board member Mahmoud El-Shami was quoted as saying by the EFA official website on Wednesday.

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