Egypt sports ministry, clubs set date for fans’ return pending authorities approval

Ahmed Abd El Rasoul, Monday 6 Aug 2018

Egypt sports ministry
Monday's meeting between sports minister, EFA president and club officials (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Egyptian clubs agreed Monday in a meeting with the sports minister and football association officials on allowing 5,000 fans to attend domestic league matches starting 1 September, with the agreement subject to the approval of the authorities, according to media reports.

The meeting was hosted by Sports Minister Ashraf Sobhi and attended by clubs' representatives, the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) President Hani Abou-Rida, and board members. 

"[The agreement was reached] in line with the government's keeness on the necessity of the return of the fans to the stands in league games and guranteeing their safety and not ban them, a statement by the ministry read.

"We already held meetings with both the interior ministry and army officials to discuss the fans' return," Sobhi said of the meeting.

"We hope the youth supporters return to the stands soon. We will do all the needed procedures to achieve that target," he added.

Football fans have been banned from domestic league games in Egypt since February 2012, when 72 Ahly supporters were killed at a regular season game in Port Said stadium.

The crowd ban in Egypt was briefly lifted in January 2015 but immediately reimposed after 20 Zamalek fans died in a stampede when police used tear gas to disperse crowds lined up to attend a regular league game against Enppi.

The Egyptian league season 2018/2019 started last week without fans, marking the fifth consecutive league to be played behind closed doors.

"Football pitches are not good without fans. We have been discussing this case for six years and I hope we reach real standards to apply towards the return," said Abou-Rida.

In the past five years, authorities have permitted a limited number of fans to attend African championship games and national team matches, as per FIFA rules.

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