Richard Whittall:

The Globalist's Top Ten Books in 2016: The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer

Middle East Eye: "

The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer is one of the weightiest, most revelatory, original and important books written about sport"

“The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer has helped me immensely with great information and perspective.”

Bob Bradley, former US and Egyptian national coach: "James Dorsey’s The Turbulent World of Middle Eastern Soccer (has) become a reference point for those seeking the latest information as well as looking at the broader picture."
Alon Raab in The International Journal of the History of Sport: “Dorsey’s blog is a goldmine of information.”
Play the Game: "Your expertise is clearly superior when it comes to Middle Eastern soccer."
Andrew Das, The New York Times soccer blog Goal: "No one is better at this kind of work than James Dorsey"
David Zirin, Sports Illustrated: "Essential Reading"
Change FIFA: "A fantastic new blog'

Richard Whitall of A More Splendid Life:
"James combines his intimate knowledge of the region with a great passion for soccer"

Christopher Ahl, Play the Game: "An excellent Middle East Football blog"
James Corbett, Inside World Football

Monday, April 4, 2011

Ultras deny Invasion of African Soccer Championship Pitch was Political Provocation

Supporters of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak may have instigated this weekend's invasion of the soccer pitch during a crucial African championship match between crowned Cairo club Zamalek SC and Tunisia's Club Africain, according to Egypt's government-owned Al Ahram newspaper.

Al Ahram quoted an eyewitness as saying that he had heard a man instructing others on his mobile phone to invade the pitch. The witness advised his interlocutor to be careful that their identities as affiliates of ousted President Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NDP) are not discovered.

The Al Ahram report, reflective of widespread distrust of Mubarak, who toppled in February by mass anti-government protests, contrasts starkly with the fans public apology for the invasion and offer to cover the cost of any damages.

UWK members denied the reports of provocation and said they had failed to control hooligans within their ranks. They said some of their members had not been able to control themselves when they found themselves for the first time in the stadium with no security force to keep track of them. Security was virtually absent during the match.

The purpose of the provocation would have been to penalize the Ultra White Knights (UWK), the militant, violence-prone Zamalek fan group modelled on similar organizations in Italy and Serbia, because they played a key role in the fighting with security forces and pro-Mubarak supporters during the anti-government demonstrations. It would also create a sense of lack and order in contrast to when Mubarak was in power.

Finally, proponents of the belief that Mubarak supporters provoked the invasion argue that it would spark cancellation of the Egyptian Premier soccer league and therefore create the impression that Egypt was still in turmoil.

The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) said on Monday that the league would remain frozen. The league was suspended in late January to prevent the soccer pitch from becoming an opposition rallying point. Egypt’s military rulers reluctantly last month agreed to revive the league in mid-April. The EFA said it was not clear if the league would restart this season.

The pitch invasion brought to the surface a mounting battle within the fan group between the UWK's highly politicized founders and more educated younger members and more nihilistic youth who have swelled its ranks. "Its minds against muscle," said Gemmyhood, widely seen as the godfather of the ultra movement in Egypt.

The split was evident immediately after the match as many UWK members celebrated their successful disruption of the match while wiser members were stunned and shocked fearing that this would undermine their popularity and ability to act as a political pressure group. Many leaders feared it could signal the end of the ultras who have organized groups associated with several Egyptian Premier League clubs.

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