US Still Set to Play in Egypt

It seems improbable that the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) will send it's men's national team for a friendly match against Egypt to Cairo, wracked by mass anti-government protests demanding the overthrow of 82-year old Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The Washington Post is reporting that the USSF at this point still plans to let the match scheduled for February 9 go ahead as planned. The US players are scheduled to arrive in Cairo on February 6.

"As of now, we are still planning to play the match," the Post quoted USSF spokesman Neil Buethe as saying. Buethe said the federdation was monitoring the situation.

Tens of thousands of Egyptians are clashing as of this writing in unprecedented protests that have swept several countries in the Middle East and already toppled Tunisian President Zine Abidine Ben Ali. Its hard to see how calm will return to Cairo any time soon.

The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) on Thursday cancelled this weekend’s premier league soccer matches in advance of today’s protests. The cancellation was a bid to prevent soccer matches from becoming a platform for further protests.

EFA officials said privately that one reason for the cancellation was that security forces would not be able to secure the matches because they were tied up as a result of the protests.

A Facebook statement by Cairo Al Ahly Sport Club’s feared ultras said earlier this week that the group was determined to remain non-political, but that its members were free as individuals to participate in the protests.

Soccer fans, including the ultras, constitute a well-organized and feared pillar of the marshalling grassroots coalition that shows no sign of backing down in its demand for radical change in Egypt.


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