CAIRO: Security forces will be heavily deployed around Petro Sport Stadium in Cairo and will install metal barriers at great distances from the gates to prevent fans from attending a Thursday match, an official source at the Interior Ministry told Youm7.
The match between Al-Ahly and Tala’ea el-Gaish sporting clubs is the eighth of Egypt’s Premier League, but the authorities decided to hold the matches without fans for security reasons and parliamentary elections ending in December.
“The kick-off of the new Premier League without an audience will continue to kill soccer in Egypt. Hence, it has been decided that Al-Ahly fans and all sections of Ultras Ahlawy in Cairo and other governorates gather Thursday to attend the first match of the team in the Premier League against Tala’ea el-Geish,” a Wednesday post on the Facebook page of Ultras Ahlawy read.
The Facebook page of the support group has over 1.1 million likes.
For its part, Al-Ahly Club said it was not responsible for the possibility that its fans may appear at the match.
“Security [bodies] determine our pitches, we do not have the freedom to choose the stadiums in which we want to play. We appreciate the circumstances of the country and the pressures placed on security [forces,] but at the same time we cannot control the fans and prevent them from attending the match tomorrow,” head of Al-Ahly SC in el-Gezira Sherin Shams told Youm7.
Sherin, however, urged Ultras Ahlawy not to “stir a crisis” that the team “may have to pay its price,” according to Youm7.
In November 2013, clashes erupted between the police and Ultras Ahlawy who protested denying them entry into the Arab Contractors Stadium in Cairo to attend a match between Al-Ahly and South Africa’s Orlando Pirates in the African Champions League.
The police said that the stadium was at full capacity and the fans had no tickets.
Football fans and the police in Egypt have a history of violence, especially since the January 25 Revolution in 2011.
Additional reporting by Mahmoud Abdel Rady and Fathy al-Shafei