Video: Diehard Egyptian football fans chant anti-government slogans

Video: Diehard Egyptian football fans chant anti-government slogans
Hardcore supporters of Egypt's al-Ahly football club have called for the "execution" of a former military chief during a ceremony for the country's worst sporting disaster.
2 min read
02 February, 2016
Pro-government media have often accused the Ultras of being hooligans [TNA]
Thousands of diehard fans of Egypt's most successful football team shouted anti-government chants at a ceremony honouring the fourth anniversary of the Port Said stadium disaster, where 74 supporters of the club were killed.

The group of ultra-fanatical supporters of the al-Ahly football club, known as Ultras Ahlawy, called for the execution of a former military leader and insulted the police on Monday.

"The people want the execution of the field marshal", the fans chanted, referring to former army chief Mohammad Hussein al-Tantawi who was Egypt's de facto ruler at the time of the massacre.

The group holds Tantawi and police, who stood by and watched the disaster unfold, responsible for Egypt's worst sports tragedy.

Many of the 74 people who died and the 1,000 injured were crushed as panicking fans attempted to escape the stadium, after supporters of al-Masry football club invaded the pitch during the game against al-Ahly. Witnesses have said others fell or were thrown from terraces.

"On their horses and in their cars, f*** the police," shouted the Ultras, who also chanted slogans against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Pro-government media have often criticised the Ultras as being little more than violence-prone hooligans.

It was during the 2011 uprising that ousted long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak that the ultras first took on a political role.

Often providing muscle at protests, the Ultras directed demonstrators and led spirited chants. They were considered one of the most organised protests movements after the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Last year, all Ultras fan groups across the country were banned and declared terrorist organisations.

Al-Ahly fans used the Arabic-language hashtag #74MartyrsWeWontForget to commemorate the victims of the disaster, whereas pro-government social media users launched a counter campaign in support of Tantawi.

Controversial talk show host Ahmad Moussa, who is closely connected to the security apparatus, angrily accused the fans of being members of the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood and Palestinians.

The football club released a statement on Monday condemning the chants: "The board totally renounces the insults by some of the club's fans against any of the state institutions, which enjoy full respect from al-Ahly's management and fans," the statement read.

President Sisi, however, called into a talk show late on Monday evening and promised to begin an investigation into the incident and said ten Ultras members would be allowed to help with the probe.

"In such events with large crowds, it's always difficult to determine the truth behind what happened," Sisi said.

"We have been unable to reach our youth, but we are trying," Sisi claimed, adding that the Ultras are his children.