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#FootballForTheFans: Egyptians want to watch live football Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

#FootballForTheFans: Egyptians want to watch live football

the country’s two biggest club teams are preparing to play decisive games [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 October, 2015

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Blog: Football enthusiasts have called on the government to let people watch games in stadia, after deadly incidents led to fans being banned from attending.

Egyptian football supporters have launched an online campaign demanding the government allow them back into stadia, after more than half a year of fanless games.

Last week's call came as the country's two biggest club teams prepared to play decisive games at home this weekend in the semi-finals of the African Confederation Cup.

     
      Seventy-four fans died in a 2012 riot in a stadium [Getty]

Sports Minister Khalid Abd al-Aziz told al-Masry al-Youm: "Now is not an appropriate time to bring back spectators."

But the stadiums will not be totally empty, the Egyptian Football Association's Tharwat Sweilem announced.

Military conscripts will be allowed to sit in the stands during upcoming games.

Al-Ahly has also said that 500 staff members and youth players will be permitted to attend the match on Sunday.

Spectators were banned in 2012 when 74 al-Ahly fans died in a riot at Port Said stadium.

In February this year the ban was lifted but immediately re-imposed after 20 Zamalek fans died in a stampede at a stadium in Cairo.

Social media campaign

In football-crazy Egypt, the decision to keep the fans out has not gone down well.

Social media users have used the Arabic-language hashtag #FootballForTheFans to express their disappointment.

"I hope fans return to the stadiums, but I hope they wisen up and stop killing each other over football," said one Twitter user. "We're tired of hearing about death and destruction."

Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris said: "People are bored with politics now, but they never bore of football. Fans must attend matches again, but without new incidents."

Nursing student Mayada Essam said the situation reflected the ambitions of the masses.

"The dreams of Egyptians have steadily diminished, to the point that young people now dream of going to see a game in the stands," she said.

Karim Emad, meanwhile, tweeted: "Football is for enjoyment and the fans. The stadiums belong to us, they aren't yours to oppress us with."

And Mohammad Ghannam pointed out that even nations under military occupation could draw a crowd:

"Even in occupied Palestine, their national team recently played a game with fans in attendance."

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