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EFA announce league fixtures, Ultras Ahlawy storm in protest
The Egyptian FA has announced the Super Cup final will be held on Sunday, while the league fixtures of the 2012/2013 season are set to kick off on September 17, to the protest of Al Ahly Ultras.
Following months of uncertainty since last February’s Port Said tragedy, the Egyptian Premier League will kick off on September 17 without Al Masry – who’ve withdrawn from the competition out of “respect for the Egyptian football supporters,” despite having their two-season ban from EFA lifted by the CAS last month.
Domestic football is set to start on Sunday September 9 with the Super Cup match between Al Ahly, the 2010-2011 league champions, and Petroleum side ENPPI, the Egypt Cup winners, behind closed doors in Borg El-Arab stadium in Alexandria.
Today, the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) held the 2012-2013 Premier League draw, following a seven-month stoppage, which resulted in an away opener for Ahly in Ghazl El-Mahalla, while arch-rivals Zamalek will be hosting last season’s league leaders Haras El-Hodood before travelling to Ismaily the week after.
However, both Cairo sides’ opening matches will be postponed since they play their final match in the group stage in the African Champions League just one day before the league kicks off.
Cairo derbies between Ahly and Zamalek are scheduled for the finale of both rounds (17 and 34), as the FA opted to hold back the dates to avoid any potential turmoil early in the season.
The matches will all be played behind closed doors but EFA stated that it would gradually permit supporters to attend the games.
Fans were allowed to watch from the stands for the first time in seven months last weekend as approximately 3000 Zamalek fans attended the CAF Champions League clash against Berekum Chelsea. Although, there was almost two riot police officers for each fan, surrounding the perimeter of the pitch.
Justice has yet to be served
Ahly’s hardcore fans, Ultras Ahlawy, are still protesting the resumption of the league, demanding the “martyrs’ rights” first.
The group also stormed Al Ahly’s training session yesterday, holding banners criticizing their own players and the club’s board of directors for agreeing to take part in Sunday’s Super Cup showdown against ENPPI while the perpetrators of February’s Port Said disaster — which left 74 Ahly fans dead and hundreds injured— are yet to be brought to justice.
“My message to those who oppose the league resumption is: if you can do anything to stop it, just do it,” EFA spokesman Azmy Megahed told the press during today’s draw, and insisted, “football activities must return, as we are talking about a very important sector that benefits millions of workers and pleases tens of millions of fans.”
Following the Egyptian Premier League draw, Ultras Ahlawy surrounded EFA headquarters in protest against the resumption of domestic football activity. “Our message is sent; no one goes to the EFA headquarters,” they said on their official Facebook page (with over 550K members) afterwards.
Ultras Ahlawy have also called on its members to continue protests at Mohamed Mahmoud street in the iconic Tahrir Square.
Egypt president Mohamed Morsi’s sport’s affairs minister, El-Amry Farouq, announced he is eager to resume football competition in the country as it’s “an important business sector” despite ongoing security concerns.
The EFA is currently run by appointed acting chairman Amer Hussien until the ongoing new round of elections end. The last elected board resigned in February following the Port Said Stadium disaster.
Ten stadiums have been assigned for staging games, six of them are under the supervision of Egyptian military forces.
Egyptian Premier League Day 1 fixtures:
Zamalek v Haras El-Hodood
Ahly v Ghazl El Mahalla
Ittihad of Alexandria v Military Production
Arab Contractors v Gouna
Wadi Degla v El-Dakhelya
Petrojet v Telephonat Bani Sweif
Misr El-Maqassa v Ismaily
Police Union v Smouha
Tala’a El-Gaish v ENPPI