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Egypt lifts crowd ban for national team matches
Egypt announced on Wednesday that the lengthy ban on crowds at national team matches is being lifted.
Sports Minister Khaled Abdel Aziz hinted that the cancelation of the ban would take effect immediately.
“Fan support is vital for Egypt’s chances in [Africa] Cup of Nations and World Cup [qualifying]. The authorities are aware of how important it is for fans to return to the stands,” he said.
The development is a positive one with Egypt’s World Cup qualifying campaign kicking off in two months.
Egypt will host either Sierra Leone or Chad in a World Cup qualifier sometime between November 9 and 17.
If Egypt gets through its November home-and-away playoff tie, it will have three more home World Cup qualifying matches, beginning in 2016.
In addition, the Pharaohs will be hosting Nigeria and Chad in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.
The ban on supporters in stadiums began after 72 fans of Cairo club Al Ahly were killed following a match against El Masry in Port Said in 2012, with only a limited number occasionally being allowed into select matches ever since.
Following a partial easing of restrictions earlier this year, 21 more fans were killed in a pre-match incident involving security forces and Zamalek supporters.
Abdel Aziz also said that fans would be allowed in the stadium should Al Ahly and Zamalek face-off in the CAF Confederation Cup.
The cross-city arch-rivals have both secured semifinal berths.