Football matches resume in Egypt

Game between Al-Ahly and Al-Masry is the first since a 2012 match ended in deadly stadium riots, leaving 72 people dead.

    Families of those killed in 2012 had called for Al-Ahly to boycott the match [AFP]
    Families of those killed in 2012 had called for Al-Ahly to boycott the match [AFP]

    Rival football Egyptian teams Al-Ahly and Al-Masry have faced each other in the first game since a 2012 match that ended in deadly stadium riots with 72 people dead.

    The match was played on Saturday behind closed doors and at a neutral venue in the Red Sea city of Gouna, far away from Port Said where the riots erupted after the match on February 1, 2012.

    Seventy-two of Cairo-based Al-Ahly's supporters, known as the Ultras, were killed in that post-match violence in Port Said, home city of the Al-Masry team.

    Families of those killed in 2012 had called for Al-Ahly to boycott the match but the club's management decided to go ahead with it.

    "The match will be played for the sake of Egyptian football and the rights of the martyrs will be respected," Mahmoud Taher, chairman of Al-Ahly, was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.

    Saturday also saw a new hearing in the retrial of 73 defendants, including nine policemen, accused of killing the Al-Ahly supporters.

    The riots, considered the deadliest in Egypt's sports history, were largely blamed on supporters of Hosni Mubarak, who was toppled from the presidency in early 2011 after a popular uprising.

    Since 2012, Egypt's premier league championship has been split into two groups to ensure the two teams never played against each other, except potentially in a final, although that did not happen.

    However, for the 2015 season the league has reverted to a single group, meaning the two teams must now face each other once again.

    Since the riots, football fans have been largely banned from attending league matches, but limited numbers of spectators were allowed during international games whether played by clubs or the national team.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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