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Inside Story

Is football in Egypt being politicised?

As the Egyptian premier league is set for a relaunch, we ask what fuels the violence in the country's football stadiums.
Last Modified: 01 Jan 2013 14:42

The Egypt's premier league has been postponed for a second time - this time until February.

The announcement was made following a weekend of meetings between government ministers and the Egyptian Football Association. They also decided that the first season will be played without any spectators.

"Football in Egypt is part of [the] lifestyle of Egyptians. And of course people are happy that football will come again but definitely after the decision of the court because we are facing a disaster here in Egypt since one year after the case of Port Said ... I am still afraid of the decision of the court on 26th of January."

- Zakaria Nassef, a former Egyptian football player

Egyptian league football came to a halt last February after violent clashes between two of the country's most popular teams, in which more than 70 people were killed.

A month later, violent clashes erupted again after Al Masry  - one of the teams involved in the clashes - was banned from the league for two years.

When the Egyptian Football Association tried to start the new season in September, hundreds of fans attacked the body's headquarters calling for justice for those killed in February.

So, what fuels violence in Egypt's football stadiums? And is the game being politicised?

To discuss this, Inside Story, with presenter Ghida Fakhry, is joined by guests: Zakaria Nassef, a former football player for both the Al Ahly Club and the Egyptian national team; Sameh Al-Anani, a sports talk show presenter for Egyptian TV; and Leila Zaki Chakravarti, a columnist at openDemocracy, who specialises in gender studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, and is currently doing research on football in Egypt.


EGYPT'S PREMIER LEAGUE:

  • No spectators will be allowed into stadiums during the first season of Egypt’s premier league after its resumption in February 2013
  • Attempts to restart the league failed following protests by fans
  • Seventy-three security officials and fans were charged after the February 2012 riots
  • A verdict is due in January 2013 for those involved in the riots
  • Al Ahly fans were attacked by Al Masry fans in the riots
  •  Al Ahly supporters insist that the league should remain suspended
  • Eighteen clubs will compete in the 2013 premier league season
  • Officials say resuming the league is good for the sport and the economy

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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