In a clear indication of the role of Egyptian soccer is playing in the apparent end to the rule of one of the Middle East’s most powerful rulers, Egypt’s military last week not only forced the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) to cancel all matches, but also visited clubs to impose an immediate stop to all training.
In an interview with the Sofia News Agency, Stoycho Mladenov, the Bulgarian coach of
Egypt’s premier league club, Engineering for the Petroleum and Process Industries Club (ENPPI), said military officers arrived at the club last Thursday as the EFA announced the cancellation to order an immediate halt to all training. Mladenov and his players were instructed by the officers to go home until further notice.
Mladenov said he expected the suspension of matches was likely to last a month.
“I just hope that normalcy will be restored, that we will be playing football again. If there is one thing the Egyptians really love, this is football. They cherish it and that is why they are the greatest football power in Africa," the former coach of the Bulgarian national squad said.
Soccer fans have played a key role in mass demonstrations over the last week that have shaken the 30-year reign of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to its core. Mubarak was expected as of this writing to announce shortly that he would not be running for reelection in September. It was not immediately clear whether that would satisfy protestors’ demands who are demanding his immediate ouster from power.