Egyptian Premier League team Ismailia SC has become the latest target of militant soccer fans seeking a greater say in their club’s management. Hundreds of Yellow Dragons, the clubs militant fans, demonstrated to demand the resignation of the club’s board.
Military police stepped in when the demonstrators moved from the club’s headquarters to the house of Ismailia chairman Nasser Aboul-Hassan, whose resignation they demanded despite the fact that Aboul-Hassan has attempted to appease the fans by backing their demand for a cap on transfer pricing and player salaries.
The demonstration was sparked by Ismailia’s poor performance in recent matches. Ismailia drew 1-1 at home with Petrojet on Wednesday in its first Egyptian Premier League match since the lifting of a three month ban on professional soccer games. The league was suspended in late January at the outset of mass anti-government protests that toppled President Hosni Mubarak in a bid to prevent the pitch from becoming an opposition rallying point. Ismailia was also recently knocked out of the African Confederation Cup after being defeated by Kenya’s Sofapaka FC 4:0.
"We want the departure of this board because the directors spent millions to sign players and appoint new coaching staff but failed to lead the team to any titles," Mohamed Rashad, a leader of the protests, told Egyptian soccer website FilGoal.com.
In response, Aboul-Hassan rejected calls for his departure and denounced the demonstrations as “acts of terrorism” and “only small numbers of protesters.”
Angry fans last month forced the chairman of the port city of Alexandria’s struggling premier league team, Ittihad al-Skandarya, Mohamed Moselhi, a member of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP), and three other board members to resign.
Fans are also demanding the head of crowned Cairo club Al Zamalek SC board member Ibrahim Hassan who publicly supported Mubarak at the moment that the club’s supporters were battling police and pro-Mubarak groups on Cairo’s Tahrir Square in the walk-up to the president’s resignation.