Egypt's FA suggests ID cards for fans with no criminal record in effort to end spectator ban

Ahram Online , Wednesday 11 Jul 2018

Riot police stand on guard as Egypt
Riot police stand on guard as Egypt's Ahly fans cheer (Reuters)

The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) is intensifying efforts to put in place new regulations with the aim of ending a six-year ban on spectators attending the country's football games.

"We will register spectators with FAN ID cards after checking if they have a criminal record," former EFA board member Mahmoud El-Sahmi, who currently leads the clubs committee, said to local news reporters on Wednesday.

The issue of new regulations is being discussed by the EFA at an ongoing workshop held to draw up a presentation for newly appointed Sports Minister Ashraf Sobhi, with the aim of lifting the ban in the upcoming season.

The association confirmed in a press release that they are aiming to fill at least 15 percent of stadium seats in an attempt to apply the Russian experience in hosting the 2018 World Cup.

"The FAN ID concept aims to end the ticket black market and hooliganism, as well as the return of families to the stands while preserving their dignity," the association whose board is facing criticism after a failure appearance at World Cup, stated on their official website.

In February 2012, a very dark night in Egyptian football history, 72 Ahly team supporters died and dozens were severely injured in bloody clashes against rival fans from Port Said's Masry following a league game.

Seventy-three defendants, including nine police officers, were charged for involvement in the incident, and after a long process – which caused riots in the coastal city, leaving even more causalities – 10 defendants received final death verdicts last year, while another 25 received between five and 15-year prison sentences.

Two successive domestic seasons have been cancelled over security concerns, and the following competitions have been held behind closed doors with a strict ban on spectators in stadiums.

In February 2015, authorities finally allowed a minimal number of spectators to attend a league game, but this shockingly caused another bloody disaster at Cairo's Air Defense Stadium gates, leaving 20 Zamalek fans dead and dozens injured after police tried to bar spectators without tickets from entering the stadium.

While continental competition games held in Egypt have seen a limited number of spectators, a full-capacity stadium was approved for the national team's qualifiers to the 2018 World Cup.

Now, after major political changes and four different presidents leading the country in the past six years, the domestic competitions are still being held behind closed doors.

(For more sports news and updates and a special World Cup 2018 coverage, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports)

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