Sisi 'reaches out' to anti-regime Egyptian football fans

Sisi 'reaches out' to anti-regime Egyptian football fans
Ultras have been behind most anti-government protests in Egypt. Now Sisi looks to quell the passion of the youth movement by offering die-hard football fans positions in government.
2 min read
07 February, 2016
Egypt's al-Ahly football fans were linked to anti-Mubarak activism [AFP]
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is attempting to patch up ties with hardline football fans opposed to his rule.

Sisi had reportedly called for ten "ultras" from Cairo-based al-Ahly to form a committee to discuss political issues related to the club.

Ths includes an investigation into a massacre of al-Ahly football fans at Port Said Stadium in 2012.

Around 73 al-Ahly supporters were left dead after rioting broke out by home fans. Al-Masry fans attacked the away end of the stadium with knives and missiles.

The crush caused by al-Ahly fans attempting to reached safety led to a large number of deaths.

Al-Ahly Ultras insist that the military were complicit in the massacre, and local officials in Port Said and leading members of the army - such as Sisi - now hold leading positions in government.

Mohammed Farag Amer, speaker of the committee for youth and sport, has reportedly submitted a proposal for the comittee to the parliament's speaker, according to The New Arab's Arabic outlet.

Sisi has allegedly welcomed a role for the hardcore football fans in government who have been linked to anti-military protests since the overthrow of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. 

They also form a part of youth-led activism against the current regime and were heavily involved in demonstrations against Mubarak, including protecting protesters against police attacks.

"The Ultras are far from violent and [having] terrorist ideologies, and having a dialogue with them is a must," Amer said.

The proposal sparked the outrage of Egyptian MP, Murtaza Mansour, who challenged his efforts to include "an armed terrorist group" in parliament.

In 2014, Mansour described the football fans as "immature boys" who should be "in graves and prisons". 

However, Amer's proposal has won backing from some important figures such as Undersecretary of Parliament Mahmoud al-Sharif.

Whether the anti-regime football fans will join parliament is still an open question.