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OPINION: Last chance for peace between the Ultras and Egypt’s government
KingFut’s Youssef El-Hadidy casts his opinion on how Ultras Ahlawy must make use of the offer presented by president Abdelfattah El-Sisi.
Ultras Ahlawy’s show at El-Tetsh on February 2nd which was aimed to remember the 72 fans who perished on that dark night in Port Said didn’t go without its fair share of controversy. Al Ahly fans present at the club’s iconic ground verbally insulted former SCAF leader General Tantawi, as well as the police forces.
However the reaction this time was different – as Al Ahly president Mahmoud Taher condemned the chants, going as far as attacking them on live television and asking police forces to arrest them – issuing a statement that banned fans from entering the club.
The attack on Ultras Ahlawy was so intense that Egyptian president Abdelfattah El Sisi phoned Amr Adib’s Al-Qahera Al-Youm, with the former asking the ultras to organise themselves, and decide on 10 members to join a committee that aims to sanction anyone involved with Port Said.
In my opinion, this is the biggest victory for the Egyptian Ultra groups since their inception in 2007, when it comes to their relationship with the state. The head of that state is now ready to negotiate with them, meaning that they’re no longer considered a ‘terrorist group’ as some label them.
The statement that followed the offer highlighted some very intriguing points.
The statement said that the group are surprised by the president’s reaction, which is the second time he’s mentioned them following his praise following the 2014 CAF Confederation Cup final.
“Ultras Ahlawy have demanded vengeance for four years now, if there’s any plan to reopen the case then an investigation should be done with everyone mentioned in the earlier investigations,” the statement read.
The UA made it clear they can’t be judges in this case because they’re a party involved in this case, they also referred to the Air Defense disaster when 20 Zamalek fans lost their lives in February 2015. All in all, it aimed to highlight that the police forces are a problem in matches, using the handball derby as an example – when they attended alongside Zamalek’s Ultras White Knights without the presence of police forces. “The police are ready to add more martyrs if fans try to attend matches, while claiming they are using the perfect way to secure the stadiums,” it read. Finally, they said that they made many trials to go back to the stadiums and now they are “reaching out to their country for the fans to attend games again and for Egypt to find stability again.”
This opportunity has to be made use of, the trip to the presidential office should be a show of mettle, showcasing their evidence when it comes to the other culprits involved with Port Said, and how they can organize games without police forces surrounding the stadium. Ultras Ahlawy have to show the whole country that the ultras groups are civilised young men who just want to support their team. Maybe it’s one last chance for fans to return to the stadiums, without the possibility of tragic events such as Port Said and Air Defense.
Moreover, the government must reach out to the ultras, it’s the only way to move forward.
One last word for Al Ahly president Mahmoud Taher, history will always remember you as the president who wanted to arrest fans, someone who disposed of one the club’s core principles.
“Al Ahly is owned by the people who founded the club, and those who founded Al Ahly are the fans.” – Saleh Selim