Ultras Ahlawy soften stance on Port Said trial, vent anger at club board

Hatem Maher, Friday 14 Sep 2012

Die-hard Ahly supporters reiterate calls for club's board of directors to resign, but moderate stance on ongoing Port Said trial

Ultras Ahlawy
Egyptian waves Al Ahly soccer team flag during a protest (Photo: AP)

The Ultras Ahlawy – die-hard fans of Egypt's Ahly football club – have voiced their satisfaction with the ongoing trial of February's Port Said stadium disaster while expressing their anger with the Ahly club’s management over its handling of the controversial case.

The group's latest statement, issued Thursday evening, signalled a significant shift in its stance after it had previously hit out at the trial proceedings claiming that the tragedy's "real culprits" were being shielded from punishment.

Seventy-three defendants – including nine security officials, three Masry football club officials, and a number of fans – are currently on trial for their suspected roles in the country’s worst-ever football disaster.

More than 70 Ahly fans were killed on 1 February when they were attacked by Masry supporters following an ill-tempered Egyptian Premier League game.

"Seven months have passed since the death of our dearest friends. Regardless of the postponement of trial proceedings to Sunday, [the court] has gone a long way towards realising justice, which will mollify martyrs' grieving families," the Ultras Ahlawy declared on their Facebook page.

The group went on to attack the Ahly club's board of directors, which they say has not done enough to "safeguard the rights of the martyrs."

Chairman Hassan Hamdy came in for particular scorn by fans after the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) annulled a two-year ban given to Masry by the Egyptian Football Association (EFA).

The CAS reportedly decided to overturn the ban after the EFA declined to send a representative to a hearing session to look into the case. Supporters, for their part, accused Ahly’s board of negligence.

Fans are also furious that Hamdy had publicly endorsed Hani Abou-Reida, a former member of the Mubarak-era National Democratic Party, for the EFA presidency.

"We demand the resignation of Hassan Hamdy's corrupt board, which neglected the rights of the martyrs. Hamdy endorsed Abou-Reida merely to serve his own interests," the Ultras asserted.

The Ultras Ahlawy had threatened to storm Alexandria's Borg El-Arab Stadium during last Sunday’s Super Cup game between Ahly and ENPPI to protest the resumption of domestic football activity. Only a few hours before kick-off, however, they reversed their decision.

Nevertheless, the group remains adamant that Ahly not take part in next month’s Egyptian Premier League unless "justice is served" for the victims of the Port Said tragedy.

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