Mohamed Abou-Treika of Egypt's Ahly celebrates after scoring his goal against Zamalek during their CAF Champions League soccer match at the Military Stadium in Cairo July 22, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)
Ahly playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika has decided not to take part in Sunday’s Super Cup game against ENPPI to support the demands of the team’s die-hard fans over the notorious Port Said saga.
The 33-year-old, Egypt’s most popular footballer, missed Ahly’s training session on Friday and was consequently dropped from the squad for the Super Cup game, which will take place in Alexandria behind closed doors.
“Abou-Treika preferred not to participate in the Super Cup for personal reasons,” Ahly football director Sayed Abdel-Hafiz said in a brief statement on the club’s official website.
Abou-Treika’s decision will come as a major boost for Ahly’s hardcore supporters (Ultras Ahlawy), who are relentlessly attempting to prevent the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) from resuming domestic football activities.
The group wants football suspension to remain in place until the perpetrators of February’s Port Said disaster are brought to justice.
A number of Masry fans and security officials are currently facing trial on charges of premeditated murder and negligence respectively after a pitch invasion in Port Said left more than 70 Ahly fans dead in Egypt’s worst-ever football tragedy on 1 February.
Abou-Treika is a cult figure among Ultras Ahlawy members, who vehemently denied verbally abusing the Egyptian international, lauding him for “always standing by them”.
"We appreciate the historic stance of Abou-Treika ... and we have a message for other players: choose to stand by your fans, they will always be there for you," Ultras Ahlawy said on their official Facebook page.
The angry fans stormed Ahly’s training ground earlier this week, holding aloft banners rebuking their own players for agreeing to play in Sunday’s season curtain-raiser, the first competitive match to be played in local competitions since the Port Said disaster.
They stirred further controversy after invading the EFA headquarters on Wednesday, and threatened to escalate their protests if their demands were not met.
They listed six demands that included the resignation of Ahly’s board of directors, whom they believe has not done enough to pressure authorities into punishing the culprits of the Port Said disaster.
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