Egypt's Premier League To Resume On Feb. 2, One Year After Riots Killed 74 Fans
Egypt's national football league "will resume next month, a year after more than 70 fans were killed in clashes following a game in Port Said," according to Tariq Panja of BLOOMBERG. Following a meeting between the sports and interior ministers, the country's football governing body said on its website that "the Egyptian Premier League will start a new season on Feb. 2." The first round of games will be played without spectators. The Egyptian FA said that the competition "will be divided into two pools, with the winners and runners-up of each qualifying for the semifinals." It is the first time it has used the format since '76. Football matches in the country "were suspended indefinitely when Al-Masry fans attacked visiting supporters from Cairo-based Al-Ahly" in February, "a year after a mass uprising forced former President Hosni Mubarak from office." Weapons in the football violence included knives, swords, clubs, stones, bottles and fireworks (BLOOMBERG, 1/2). The AP reported "attempts to restart the league since last year failed because Al-Ahly fans demanded that perpetrators first be held to account." A verdict is due Jan. 26 in the trial of 73 security officials and fans, some facing murder charges. The last time the league "was due to resume was during the same week President Mohammed Morsi set a referendum on the country's new constitution," so the FA decided to delay it. The association said Sunday that the ministries in charge of security and sports felt restarting the league in February is "positive for the economy, the sport" and would signify stability (AP, 1/2).