Ultra Violence - How Egypt’s soccer mobs are threatening the revolution

Ultra Violence

How Egypt’s soccer mobs are threatening the revolution.


Wednesday's lethal soccer riots in the Suez Canal town of Port Said, which left more than 73 spectators and security personnel dead, marks a watershed moment in Egypt after the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak. This tragedy is not simply a story of a match gone horribly awry: It will have important and wide-ranging political ramifications, further isolate militant, highly politicized, violence-prone fan groups, single out the police for renewed criticism, and strengthen calls for the imposition of law and order.
Initial reports said the violence erupted during a match between storied Cairo club Al Ahly, Egypt's most popular team, and Premier League team Al Masry, with only a minimal number of security forces in the stadium. While Wednesday's deadly incident constitutes the worst soccer-related violence in an Egyptian stadium in the country's history, it is not the first time that militant fan groups -- or "ultras," modeled on similar groups in Italy and Serbia -- have invaded the pitch. The incident is but one of a series of violent events involving soccer fans since Mubarak's fall.
As in April, when fans of Al Ahly's arch-rival Zamalek club invaded the pitch during the post-Mubarak era's first African Cup match against a Tunisian team, rumors were swirling in Egypt about the reasons for Wednesday's incident. Some Egyptians speculated that the security forces deliberately allowed the clashes to take place to prove that the police are needed to avoid a breakdown of law and order. Others suggested that Egypt's military rulers engineered the lack of a police presence in a bid to provoke the ultras and further undermine their credibility in a protest-weary country frustrated with the country's downward economic spiral.
Read further on Foreign Policy


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