3 players give up football after violence in Egypt
Cairo: Three Egypt internationals and Al-Ahly players have retired from all football after witnessing the deadly clashes between fans at their league game against Al-Masry on Wednesday.
Mohamed Aboutrika and Mohamed Barakat, who both have at least 70 caps for Egypt, told Al-Ahly TV that they would quit immediately after the mass violence that left at least 74 people dead at a stadium in the Mediterranean city of Port Said.
"I will not play football again," Aboutrika said late Wednesday. Barakat told the channel that there would be "no football after today" for him.
Emad Moteab also said he will refuse to play until there was "retribution for the people that died," leaving the door open for an eventual return to the game.
Aboutrika and Barakat started the game against Al-Masry, while Moteab was a substitute, and all were among the Al-Ahly players forced to flee the pitch after opposition supporters surged onto the field and clashes broke out.
Aboutrika criticized police and security officials for standing by as Al-Masry supporters, armed with knives, sticks and stones, chased Al-Ahly players and fans, who ran toward the exits and up the stands to escape, according to witnesses.
"People here are dying and no one is doing a thing. It`s like a war," Aboutrika told the team`s TV station. "Is life this cheap?"
Al-Ahly`s Portuguese coach Manuel Jose has also reportedly asked the Cairo club - Egypt`s most successful ever - to cancel his contract and allow him to return to Portugal, while Al-Masry club president Kamel Abu Ali and coach Hossam Hassan have quit.
The Egyptian Football Association suspended all league games indefinitely before Egyptian Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri dissolved the federation`s board on Thursday.
While Al-Ahly`s supporters apparently were not the instigators behind Wednesday`s violence, Egypt`s most successful club has a history of violent episodes connected to its matches.
Al-Ahly was voted Africa`s club of the century in 2000 and has won a record 36 Egyptian league titles and the African Champions League six times - also a record.
But its renowned ultras - or hardline supporters - have often been involved in fighting with police or fans of other teams, and anti-establishment violence has often been associated with its games.
Last year, Al-Ahly was forced by Africa`s football confederation to play games in the continental club competition behind closed doors after trouble with its fans.
In September, more than 70 fans and riot police were hurt in clashes that spilled out from a stadium into a Cairo neighborhood following an Al-Ahly game.
It came amid long-standing and bitter animosity between the football supporters and Egyptian security forces after the uprising that toppled Egypt`s former president, Hosni Mubarak, was fuelled by anger over police abuse and brutality.
On Wednesday in Port Said, security forces were accused of doing nothing to stop the violence against Al-Ahly players, fans and officials.
The ultras accused the military council and former members of Mubarak`s regime of retaliating against them for their role in the uprising last year and in anti-military protests since.
"They want to punish us and execute us for our participation in the revolution against suppression," the Ultras of Al-Ahly group said in a statement.