Egyptian Anti-Government Protest Force Cancellation of League Matches

James M. DorseyCorrespondent IJanuary 27, 2011

Egyptian matches cancelled
Egyptian matches cancelledMichael Steele/Getty Images

With Egypt bracing itself for a fourth day of mass anti-government protests, the Egyptian Football Association says it has cancelled Friday's Premier League soccer matches.

The EFA, in an announcement on its website, gave no reason for the cancellation, which most probably is at the request of the government in a bid to prevent soccer matches from becoming a platform for further protests.

“The EFA board has decided to postpone the first division games that were scheduled for 28 and 29 January. The fixtures will be determined later,” the statement read.

Four league matches were scheduled over the Egyptian weekend for Friday and three on Saturday. Cairo’s Zamalek’s was scheduled to play Haras El-Hodoud on Monday.  The EFA said the games would be rescheduled at a later date.

Anti-government activists have called for mass protests after midday prayers on Friday. At least seven people have died so far in the protests aimed at forcing 82-year-old Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak from office.

EFA officials said privately that one reason for the cancellation was that security forces would not be able to secure the matches because they were tied up as a result of the protests.

Facebook statement by Cairo Al Ahly Sport Club’s feared ultras said earlier this week that the group was determined to remain non-political, but that its members were free as individuals to participate in the protests.

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Soccer fans, including the ultras, constitute a well-organized and feared pillar of the marshaling grassroots coalition determined to ensure that Mubarak suffers the same fate as Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali who was toppled earlier this month by similar mass demonstrations.

James M. Dorsey authors the The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog


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