Ultras fans to protest to demand private security replace MOI in stadiums
Riot policemen deploy themselves during clashes with Ultras Ahlawy - AFP

CAIRO: Ultras fans of seven sporting clubs issued a statement late Sunday on their official Facebook pages asking fans to demonstrate on March 15 at 2 p.m. in front of their clubs to protest security forces affiliated with the Ministry of Interior in Egyptian stadiums.

“We say it loud, we refuse security force attendance in Egyptian stadiums,” the Ultras statement read. “The police forces are unable to secure football matches.”

The Ultras fans demanded in their statement that stadiums “contract with private security companies to secure stadiums instead of police forces, just like other countries,” adding that “such companies cost in a year as much as securing one match by the security forces affiliated with the Ministry of Interior.”

The statement follows a CAF Champions League match March 1 where security forces clashed with Zamalek White Knights fans who tried to enter Cairo Stadium. Arrests of 33 fans followed.

Ultras Ahlawy issued a statement March 4 announcing their solidarity with Zamalek fans who were tear gassed by police, preventing them from attending the CAF Champions League match.

“Freedom for Zamalek fans, freedom for every fan charged with supporting his own team, salvation from an oppressive and stupid regime,” the statement read.

The Ministry of Interior had sent a letter earlier to the Egyptian Football Association stating that no spectators are allowed in local, African, or international matches in Cairo for “security reasons“ due to clashes during the CAF Super Cup final match in Cairo Stadium a few days before the Zamalek match.

In the aftermath of the CAF Super Cup final match Feb. 20, between Al-Ahly SC and its Tunisian counterpart CS Sfaxien in Cairo Stadium, major clashes erupted between Ultras Ahlawy and security forces when the fans began chanting against former Minister of Interior Habib al-Adly.

Clashes intensified after security forces attempted to take the fans’ main banner, before firing teargas and birdshots, stated an Ultras Ahlawy statement issued on Feb. 21.

Five officers and seven soldiers were injured, according to an official source inside the Cairo Security Directorate.

Police forces have a long history of conflicts and clashes with Ultras fans of different clubs, which reached a peak in a tragic incident at the Port Said stadium in 2012.

On Feb. 1, 2012, thousands of Al-Ahly fans went to the Port Said stadium to watch a football match between Al-Ahly and Al-Masry. After Al-Masry won 3-1, people stormed the field and began attacking the Al-Ahly fans.

The clashes left 72 people dead, thousands injured, and more than 100 in critical condition. Weapons and fireworks were used, causing widespread public anger against security forces, who were accused of allowing weapons past stadium security.

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights sent a fact-finding commission on Feb. 2, 2012 to investigate the Port Said massacre. The commission released videos on its website featuring witnesses who said that the police did not respond when the riot began, even though their numbers were high.

The commission also said stadium security had not been checking tickets, the floodlights had been turned off, “violent thugs” had been “snuck into the stadium,” and the away team gate for Al-Ahly had been welded shut, preventing Ahly fans from escaping the violence.

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