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Egypt cancels football season over unrest

FA cites security concerns, but declared champions Al Ahly and Zamalek African Champions match may still go ahead.

Last Modified: 13 Jul 2013 11:44
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Riot police have been present at Zamalek matches during this past season after the Port Said tragedy [Reuters]

The Egyptian football league has been cancelled for a second season amid security fears over continued unrest in the countrty.

The premier domestic league was already suspended indefinitely, after the removal of Mohamed Morsi as President – just weeks short of it’s culmination.

Al Ahly and Zamalek were declared champions because they were top of their respective nine-team groups.

Cairo's two top clubs were due to play an African Champions League match in nine days' time. However, that match was still expected to go ahead.

The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) held a meeting with all the clubs to discuss the future of the league and they issued a written statement on Thursday saying they had asked the interior ministry to advise on the security situation.

Hassan Farid, EFA vice president, had earlier spoken of his desire to complete the league, but he said that security and the interests of Egypt was more important.

"Egypt at the moment need to unite all its sons," Farid said in a written statement on the website.

Spectators crushed

Last season was cancelled because of the stadium tragedy in the northern city of Port Said, in which 74 spectators were killed and hundreds more were injured.

Many of the victims had died in a crush of people at the stadium as fans clashed as soon as the referee blew the final whistle after the February 2012 match, which saw home team al-Masry beat Cairo's al-Ahly 3-1.

Spectators were crushed when panicked crowds tried to escape from the stadium after a pitch invasion by supporters of Al-Masry.

Two senior policemen - the former head of police security General Essam Samak and Brigadier General Mohammed Saaed - were sentenced to 15 years in prison. Saaed had the keys to the stadium gates, which were locked at the time of the riot.

Witnesses have said that police deployed at the stadium were passively staying on the sidelines and did not interfere to stop the violence.

In March, there was another deadly riot over the stadium tragedy.

Al-Ahly fans, angered by the acquittal of seven police officers, set fire to a police officers' club and the football federation's headquarters in the capital angered by verdicts over last year's deadly stadium riots.

Hundreds of people also took to the streets in Port Said to protest against a Cairo court's upholding of the death sentences of 21 fans accused of sparking the riots that left 74 people - most of them Al-Ahly supporters - dead.

The death sentences, passed on January 28, were a flashpoint for protests across the country.

 

 

 

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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