Remember way back when in 2011, when I shouted out Egypt’s crazed football fans for kicking ass during and after the fall of Mubarak? Well, in honor of the upcoming protests marking one year since the initial #Jan25 uprising, it looks like the Egyptian Football Association has decided to pick sides–the wrong side–again.
James M. Dorsey covers the EFA’s postponement of the 16th round of our Premier League matches on his excellent blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer. The whole article is really worth reading, but here are some important highlights:
The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) has delayed the 16th round of Premier League soccer matches in a bid to prevent the pitch from becoming an anti-military rallying point during this week’s celebrations of the eruption of protests a year ago that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.The delay, a year after the EFA suspended professional soccer for three months in the walk-up to and aftermath of the ousting of Mr. Mubarak, is part of a concerted effort to reduce the risk of clashes between militant, violence prone soccer fans and security forces.The military announced late Saturday that it had granted amnesty to 1,950 people, including activists and soccer fans detained during clashes in past months with security forces in a nother move designed to avert violence during the anniversary celebrations.Matches will resume on January 27, two days after the celebrations on January 25, the first of 18 days of mass anti-government protests last year that forced Mr. Mubarak to resign after 30 years in office.…The ultras, steeled by years of almost weekly clashes with security forces in stadiums during the Mubarak era, played a key role in breaking the barrier of fear as tens of thousands of protesters poured into Cairo’s Tahrir Square in late January of last year where they stayed for 18 days until Mubarak resigned. They formed the protesters’ front line when security forces and Mubarak loyalists attacked the protesters.…Ahmed Ezzat, the general coordinator of the Popular Committees for Protecting the Revolution, added speaking to Al Ahram Online: “All demonstrators always welcome the Ultras members in Tahrir Square. They are highly organised and are not looking for any media attention. They have the tendency to struggle in hard times; they are perceived to be comrades in the project of the revolution and have robustly supported the revolutionaries all along.”