Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke met with Ghana’s sports minister and other officials in Togo on Monday to assure them of security plans for next week’s World Cup play-off in Cairo.
The Ghana Football Association said it has already received some details of the safety procedures around the decisive November 19 play-off in the troubled Egyptian capital in a letter from Valcke, including permanent police escorts for players and officials, and “sufficient” security at team hotels and at training sessions.
“The security plan has been designed in order to ensure total protection for all the delegations (Ghana, Egypt and Fifa) from arrival up to departure,” Valcke wrote in his letter, according to the GFA.
Ghana leads the two-legged play-off 6-1 on aggregate and are likely to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil.
The meeting in the Togolese capital, Lome, comes a day after skirmishes between fans and police outside a stadium in Cairo before Egypt’s Al Ahly beat South Africa’s Orlando Pirates in the final of the African Champions League. No injuries were reported, although police fired tear gas at hundreds of rioting Al Ahly fans ahead of kickoff outside the Arab Contractors Stadium on Sunday.
Ghana have said they fears their delegation will be caught up in possible protests by Egyptian fans against the military leadership when Egypt host Ghana at another Cairo venue, the military-owned 30 June Stadium. It is the first international game in the capital since 2011, the year former President Hosni Mubarak was forced from power.
Sunday’s second leg of the African club final was the first major match in Cairo – and anywhere in Egypt – where so many fans had been allowed into a stadium since the Port Said disaster in 2012, when 74 people, mostly Ahly fans, died in a football riot at a game.
The Champions League game was viewed partly as a trial run for the World Cup play-off, for which Fifa is responsible.
Tensions were raised hours before kickoff in Sunday’s final when hundreds of Ahly’s highly politicised fans briefly clashed with police outside the stadium and hurled rocks. Police responded with tear gas to calm the crowd as some supporters tried to force their way into the stadium without tickets.
The game inside the stadium appeared to pass off without any problems.
In his letter to Ghanaian officials, Valcke described a “comprehensive security approach and delivery” for Egypt v Ghana.
“Police escorts will permanently cover each and every transfer of these delegations, as well as an ambulance, while the hotels will be totally secured by the deployment of sufficient security guards,” the Fifa secretary general said.
At the game, he said “the different security perimeters will filter the ticket-holders, who will be searched individually before accessing the inner perimeter.”