Egyptian fans to warm stands in five games next month, says sports minister

Mahmoud Elassal , Saturday 25 Feb 2017

Fans have been barred from attending football matches for three years, following the Port Said Stadium massacre

Khaled Abdel-Aziz
Egypt Sports Minister Khaled Abdel-Aziz

Egyptian Sports Minister Khaled Abdel-Aziz has said fans will be back in stadiums next month in five games in African tournaments and Egypt's national team friendly.

"In March, Ahly, Zamalek, Smouha and Masry will play in the two African championships with fans in attendance," Abdel-Aziz told a television programme late Friday.

"Egypt;s national team will play a friendly game in the same month with fan attendance," he added.

Egyptian giants Ahly and Zamalek are competing in the CAF Champions League and will start their mission in the 32nd round in March, while Masry and Smouha are playing in the continental second tournament, the CAF Confederation Cup, also in March.

"We are working to allow fans to return to stands in the domestic competition," the Abdel-Aziz said.

"I don't think the interior ministry would mind allowing fans to return to the stands," he said.

"2017 is a decisive year for the Egyptian football due to the World Cup qualifiers." Abdel-Aziz added.

An official ban on fan attendance was issued by the Egyptian government following the Port Said Stadium massacre in February 2012, when over 70 fans attending a domestic match were killed in post-match violence. The ban has prevented fan attendance at all league matches for over three years.

In February 2015, the ban was partially lifted before it was immediately reimposed after 19 Zamalek fans died in a stampede at Cairo's Air Defence Stadium.

Clubs have repeatedly called for an end to the ban, but Egyptian authorities have been reluctant to lift it.

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