Friday, September 7, 2012

300 hooligans storm Egyptian Soccer headquarters

The aftermath of the deadly soccer riot in Egypt in February is still being felt in the country as about 300 thugs stormed the nation’s Football Association headquarters in Cairo on Sept. 5. The riot, which took place on Feb. 1, saw 74 people killed in the community of Port Said after fans attacked each other following Al-Masry's 3-1 home win over Al-Ahly. The 300 protestors gathered at the soccer headquarters because the league is going to be resumed before the accused in the riot have been brought to justice.

The violence didn’t end in the stadium as the days following the game produced more deadly violence in the streets of Cairo. Those who witnessed the stadium attacks said fans of Al-Masry stormed the soccer pitch after the game and started to stab Al-Ahly supporters. They also threw people off of the bleachers while police officers allegedly looked on without doing anything to stop it.

Witnesses also claimed that the lights in the stadium were then turned off and the exits were locked which led to the suffocation and trampling of fans who were trying to escape the sick violence. The league was canceled after the incident, but the soccer association recently reversed the decision and said that games will resume this fall. However, no announcement has been made yet on whether or not fans will be allowed into the stadiums.

Those who stormed the soccer headquarters are known as Ultras, and are basically nothing more than
armed hooligans. They showed up at the building and started smashing cars and firing flares because no sentences have been handed out before the games are set to begin. A witness at the soccer organization said Ultras smashed display cases and stole trophies. The Ultras reportedly warned the association that they would attack the office if the league resumed, but there was nowhere near enough security forces on hand.
The Ultras were also involved in street protests last year when Hosni Mubarak was toppled as Egypt’s leader. Most of those who died in the soccer riot were young adults and older teenagers and it resulted in 73 people being charged, some of them with murder. Also, some of the police officers who were charged are accused of helping the attackers during the stadium riot.

It’s been reported that they stood by and watched as they wanted to see Al-Ahly Ultras punished for their involvement in the ousting of Mubarak as well as other street protests against the military and police. The court trial was halted on Sept, 5 and is set to resume on Sept. 17 as the defense attorneys have requested that the judge be replaced.

The Al-Ahly Ultras are also upset that the Al-Masry club will be allowed to play in the upcoming league games after originally being banned. However, the international court of arbitration for sports overturned the suspension. Al-Masry has said they will forfeit their season games though due to concerns about security and because several of the players left the team after the sickening night of violence at the stadium..
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