Egypt bans ultra soccer fan clubs

Hardcore clubs banned over terrorism accusations

A court in Cairo has banned all Egypt's hardcore soccer fan clubs, known as "ultras", over accusations of terrorism.

The ruling on 16 May is considered by political commentators as the latest attempt by the judiciary to prevent demonstrations in Egypt. It is also perceived as a crackdown on the well-organised ultras movement which the present government claims was central to the violence surrounding the 2011 popular uprising that led to the overthrow of former president Hosni Mubarak.

The court case was filed by management of Cairo's popular Zamalek Football Club which has long been at loggerheads with its diehard supporters' association, known as the Ultras White Knights (UWK).

The ruling, which applies to all Egyptian ultras clubs, came hours after the former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi was sentenced to death on charges of breaking out of prison as well as espionage.

In April, 11 football fans were sentenced to death in a retrial of over 70 defendants for their role in a 2012 soccer riot that left 74 people dead. The riot erupted in February 2012 when fans of home team Al Masry and Cairo’s Al Ahly clashed after a match at a stadium in the Mediterranean city of Port Said.

Egypt has been cautious about allowing large crowds to attend football matches ever since the Port Said game in 2012, and in February this year it suspended all football league matches indefinitely following the deaths of 22 people at a Cairo soccer stadium during a game between local sides Zamalek and ENPPI.

Mohamed Morsi was sentenced to death  22 people at a Cairo soccer stadium