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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Egypt to allow football fans to attend matches at stadiums in phased manner

Ban, put in place after a riot and a stampede, to be lifted from September 1

A general view of Al Salam Stadium as a cloud of a black smoke rises during opening Egyptian Premier League match between Al Ahly and El Ismaily. Reuters
A general view of Al Salam Stadium as a cloud of a black smoke rises during opening Egyptian Premier League match between Al Ahly and El Ismaily. Reuters

Football fans will once again be able to watch matches inside stadiums from next month, the Egyptian media has reported.

The decision was taken by Ashraf Sobhy, Egypt's youth and sports minister, who made the announcement after meeting with Egyptian Football Association (EFA) officials and representatives of prominent sports clubs across the country.

“Everyone is looking forward to the public’s return to the stands once again," Sobhy said, "so they can attend their matches and encourage their teams in the appropriate manner.”

The ban on attendance, put in place three years ago, will be lifted on September 1 but in a phased manner.

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According to a report that appeared in the Egypt Independent, the ministry has agreed to allow up to 5,000 spectators to attend local matches, with 500 seats reserved for people with disabilities, while 20,000 people can watch international matches.

The government had effected a ban on football audiences in February 2012 after a riot broke out inside Port Said Stadium, killing 73 supporters of Al Ahly, the reigning Egyptian Premier League (EPL) champions.

Stadiums were reopened three years later, only for the ban to be put back in place after 22 fans of Zamalek, another high-profile EPL club, died in a stampede in Cairo as they tried to make their way into the stadium.

The 60th season of the EPL got under way on July 31.

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