Egypt sports minister attacked during press conference (video)

Eslam Omar, Thursday 16 May 2013

Dozens of protesters storm press conference at Cairo Stadium, force Sports Minister El-Amry Farouq to escape through backdoor; Zamalek board says club not responsible for violence

El-Amry Farouk
Egypt's Sports Minister attacked during a press conference 16 May 2013

Egyptian Sports Minister El-Amry Farouq has been forced to cancel a press conference on Thursday after dozens of protesters stormed the venue. 

Farouq was supposed to announce new regulations for football clubs, which would remain in force until 2020, and give a presentation on sports development plans, but dozens of protesters, believed to be members of Ultras White Knights, Zamalek's group of die-hard fans, stormed the Equestrian Hall at Cairo Stadium and attacked the minister and other attendees.

According to Nile Sports TV channel, nobody was hurt and security forces took the minister to safety out of the stadium's backdoor, but some cameras and equipment was damaged.

"I demand the security forces arrest these thugs and identify them," Farouq said after the press conference, but refused to point the finger at any club or group.

"Police are still in the Cairo Stadium in confrontation with the thugs who have knives. They predicted I would be attacked and they were able to save me.

"The coming hours will reveal more details about the incident," Farouq added.

Egypt's Sports Minister attacked during a press conference 16 May 2013 (Video: Ahly channel)

"Zamalek, we are your army. We sacrifice our souls for you!" Ultras White Knights stated on its Facebook page, which has over 312,000 members, after the press conference was stormed at noon.

The Zamalek board has denied any relationship with the protesters.

"Zamalek condemn any sort of violence and the club is not responsible for what happened during the press conference," Medhat Bahgat, Zamalek board member, told the press.

On Wednesday, Zamalek's chairman Mamdouh Abbas, whose mandate should end at the end of May, accused the sports minister of favouring arch-rivals Ahly after he decided to appoint a stop-gap board of directors to take charge of Zamalek until September's elections.

"I did not believe in the conspiracy theory, but now it's clear that it [the ministry] is trying to destabilise the club," Abbas told a news conference on Wednesday.

"Farouq belongs to Ahly, and he doesn't treat the clubs equally because he wants to favour his club," Abbass, a wealthy businessman and life-long Zamalek supporter, added.

Farouq, a former Ahly board member, was appointed sports minister in August 2012 and was credited with helping end a lengthy stoppage of domestic football competitions following the Port Said disaster.

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