Egypt: controversy around the ultras and Al Ahly football club fans

Egyptian social networks are shaken by a controversy around the “ultras”, this league of diehard supporters of the football club of Al Ahly Sporting Club.

The controversy erupted after the violence that followed last week on an African league match between the most popular club in Egypt and CF Mounana of Gabon.

It started with smoke that nearly canceled the meeting. But the situation deteriorated late in the game. As the Ahly won 4-0, the ultras began destroying the Cairo Stadium’s surveillance cameras and seats before going into confrontation with the police. There were several wounded and two police cars burned. The ultras also chanted slogans against the police and the power of President Sissi.

The public was admitted exceptionally to this match. An audience whose reputation for violence is well established. In February 2012, 72 Al Ahly fans were killed in violence at the PortSaid stadium and 22 supporters of the Zamalek club died in Cairo in 2015. After the violence there was an outburst on the networks against ultras.

Many people called for the outright ban of this league, some claimed the arrest of its leaders, others accused the ultras to be anarchists or worse, “agents of the forces of evil” seeking to sow chaos.

Internet users claimed that the violence was orchestrated by leaders of the protest movement of April 6, associated with the brotherhood of the Muslim Brotherhood. The management of the club Al Ahly, who has just won for the fortieth time the championship of Egypt, was taken to task and summoned to declare all the ultras whose names he had and Eight people were taken into custody.

Those who defend them see in them the last revolutionaries who survived the uprising against former President Mubarak in 2011. The ultras of the Ahly club had indeed actively participated in the protests of the famous Tahrir Square that had caused the fall of Mubarak. The violence in the Cairo stadium and the confrontation with the police were perceived by these citizens as “acts of resistance against a power that suppresses any challenge.”

Since 2013, sport and especially football have become a field of political propaganda for both the Egyptian government and the opposition. Both sides will seek to profit from the performance, honorable or disappointing, of the Pharaohs at the World Cup in Russia this summer.

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